Ring in the holidays with a homemade bourbon eggnog that’s easy to make and even easier to sip on.
In Kentucky, there’s no substitute for whiskey in eggnog; we always make bourbon eggnog. The baking spices inherent in the spirit, the sweetness of it and it’s ability to cut through the cream to still shine through makes it a perfect match for this holiday drink.
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So, about 5 years ago, I decided to make some whiskey eggnog for them. Even though I hated it at the time. Let me tell you, homemade is a completely different beast from store-bought. It’s creamy, it’s thick, it’s sweet and full of baking spices and a hint of spirit. It’s melted vanilla ice cream with a kick.
I hated eggnog until I tasted the drink freshly made. My honey and my Mom are fiends. Every Thanksgiving, they start plotting when they’ll get their first alcoholic eggnog drink.
History of Eggnog Cocktails
We think eggnog came from a medieval British drink called a “posset” – a warm drink with milk, ale and spices. Sometime around the 1700s, the word eggnog came into general use and referred to something closer to the eggnog cocktails as we know them today.
The drink was associated with the holidays, because it contained ingredients like eggs, milk and sherry – easier for the wealthy to find. To splurge or celebrate prosperity, the drink would be made and shared with friends.
There is talk that the “nog” part of the name comes from the word “noggin” – a wooden cup, or a very strong beer or ale. It’s related to cocktails which contain a whole egg, the category of drinks called flips. Today’s sensibilities mean that flips aren’t as popular as they once were, but a traditional eggnog recipe, which includes eggs, cream and spirits fits into that category nicely.
Before creating my own bourbon eggnog recipe, I asked for recipes from two family members.
The two versions are very close, except that one includes egg whites and the other uses only the yolks. Also, one uses brandy and Southern Comfort, and the other uses just bourbon.
The base recipe is from my cousin Laura, whose eggnog cocktail recipe is award-winning. I didn’t do much to it to improve on it.
The base ingredients for this no cook eggnog are:
Use farm fresh, if at all possible. Given the amount of sugar and whiskey, and the fact that I use farm fresh eggs, the drink won’t last long enough to spoil. If you’re concerned, though, using pasteurized eggs to make it.
- Half and Half
- Heavy Cream
Remember, this is an indulgently rich bourbon cocktail. If anyone asks, just smile and say, “Calories and fat don’t count during December holidays.”
- Vanilla extract
Ingredients for My Bourbon Eggnog Recipe
I took some liberties with the spirits, to suit the flavors traditional to my immediate family. My bourbon eggnog recipe uses 100 proof bourbon, and also includes amaretto.
- Spices and Garnishes
There are also earthy, fall/winter spices in this drink, namely nutmeg. A glassware garnish of cinnamon and star anise make this a fabulous holiday cocktail to remember!
No Cook Bourbon Eggnog Recipe Notes
Nothing about making this recipe is difficult, especially if you have a stand mixer. In fact, the bulk of the time you’ll spend is letting the mixer do the work for you.
- Whip the eggs like you mean it.
First separate out the egg yolks and whites. It’s important to beat the egg yolks until they are a pale yellow color before adding in the sugar.
- Don’t be timid with the mixer.
Once you add the sugar, continue beating the mixture until it looks like thick cake batter. Add in the vanilla and nutmeg at this point and stir until combined.
- Incorporate the spirits slowly.
Next up, add your spirits. I use 1.5 cups of 100 proof bourbon, and ¼ to ½ cup of amaretto. If your family prefers, use brandy/cognac, or a combination of brandy and rum.
It’s important to add the spirits a tablespoon or two at a time. Adding the booze slowly helps ensure that your eggnog cocktail has bourbon throughout.
- Chill for at least 24 hours!
Now the hard part. Put the bourbon eggnog into a jar and store it in the fridge for at least 24 hours to let it cure. Letting it steep for up to a week is even better.
As it sits in the fridge, it will become increasingly fragrant. Don’t worry, with the amount of sugar and bourbon in the mixture, you’re not in danger of it going bad.
Once cured, shake up the jar vigorously and add in 3 cups of heavy cream whipped until thick, but not to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the yolk/bourbon mixture in a large mixing bowl. Next, add 3 cups of half and half (more if you want your eggnog less thick), and fold to combine.
- Taste test just before serving.
Taste test the eggnog, because you may need to add more liquor. However, keep in mind that it expands as it sits. It’s best if you make it a few days before you want to drink it. This way, it has a lovely bourbon bouquet wafting off the top.
Serving and Gifting
This recipe makes a large batch – about 2.5 liters! But it’s a great gift, and people love homemade goodies over the holidays, so keep some for yourself and give the rest away.
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces usually come from the Cocktail Kingdom section of Amazon:
You may already have these bar essentials, but just in case:
- 12 egg yolks save the egg whites for sours
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups 100 proof bourbon
- 1/3 cup amaretto
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream whipped
- 3 cups half and half
- Optional: additional bourbon as needed to taste
- Garnish: fresh grated nutmeg cinnamon stick
- Beat egg yolks in a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until lightened a bit.
- Add in the sugar, and mix until the batter is thick – almost like a cake batter.
- Add in the vanilla and nutmeg.
- Add the bourbon and amaretto in small amounts at a time, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time.
- Transfer to a glass jar or container and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Three days to a week is even better.
- Fold in the whipped cream and half and half.
- Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.
This post, first published in December 2020, was updated with new content in February 2023.