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How to Make the Perfect Bourbon Eggnog

5 from 1 vote

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Bourbon Eggnog on a cookie and candy plate in gold rimmed glasses garnished with star anise and cinnamon
Bourbon Eggnog

In Kentucky, there’s no substitute for whiskey in your 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. 

I hated eggnog until I made it. My honey and my Mom are eggnog fiends. Every Thanksgiving they start plotting when they’ll get their first eggnog, what they’ll use to “nog” it, as we say, so about 5 years ago I decided to make some homemade eggnog for them. Even though I hated it at the time. Let me tell you, homemade eggnog 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. 

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Traditional Eggnog

We think eggnog came from a medieval British drink called a “posset” – it was 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 what we consider the drink today. It was associated with the holidays because it contained ingredients like eggs, milk and sherry – easier for the wealthy to find. So, around the holidays, to splurge or celebrate prosperity the drink would be made and shared.  

There is talk that the “nog” part of the name came 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.

My Bourbon Eggnog Recipe

Bourbon Eggnog on a cookie and candy plate in gold rimmed glasses garnished with star anise and cinnamon
Bourbon Eggnog

Once I decided to make eggnog, I asked around for a couple of recipes and received two family recipes that were very close, except that one used the egg whites and the other just the yolks. One used brandy and Southern Comfort and the other used just bourbon. So I took some liberties with the spirits used to suit the flavors traditional to my family and added amaretto as well as bourbon. The base recipe I used is from my cousin Laura, whose eggnog recipe is award-winning. I didn’t do much to it to improve on it. 

The ingredients are simple: eggs, cream, half and half, sugar, vanilla and spirits. This is not a cooked eggnog recipe. Given the amount of sugar and bourbon (and the fact that I used farm fresh eggs) the drink won’t last long enough to spoil. If you’re concerned, though, purchase pasteurized eggs to make it. 

How to Make Bourbon Eggnog Like a Pro

Bourbon Eggnog on a cookie and candy plate in gold rimmed glasses garnished with star anise and cinnamon
Bourbon Eggnog

Nothing about making eggnog is difficult 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. First separate out the egg yolks and whites. You’ll beat the egg yolks until thick, then add in the sugar. Once you add the sugar, continue to beat until the liquid looks like a thick cake batter. Add in the vanilla and nutmeg at this point and stir until combined.

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. For me, there’s no substitute for bourbon in my eggnog, but put something you love in it. In this step, I add the spirits a tablespoon or two at a time. Adding it in slowly helps it combine better.

Now the hard part. Put the 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, the bourbon works its magic with the eggs and sugar and becomes 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 the eggnog, you might need to add more bourbon, but the bourbon taste expands as it sits, so I usually make mine a few days before I want to drink it so it’s got a lovely bourbon bouquet wafting off the top. I usually end up testing it the day I serve it and adding bourbon to taste.

This 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. 

Bourbon Eggnog on a cookie and candy plate in gold rimmed glasses garnished with star anise and cinnamon
Bourbon Eggnog

Other Holiday Drinks You Might Like

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Bourbon Eggnog on a cookie and candy plate in gold rimmed glasses garnished with star anise and cinnamon

Bourbon Eggnog

Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktailHeather Wibbels
Ring in the holidays with a homemade bourbon eggnog that’s easy to make and even easier to sip on. You’ll love sipping on this and your friends will love receiving a little gift jar since it makes 2.5 L of eggnog, depending on how thick you whip the cream.
5 from 1 vote
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1


  • 12 egg yolks save the egg whites for sours
  • 1 ¾ c sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups bourbon – 100 proof
  • ¼ to ½ 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.
Keyword amaretto, bourbon, eggnog, eggs, flip, nutmeg, vanilla
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on December 23rd, 2020
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey and cocktail author (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.

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4 thoughts on “How to Make the Perfect Bourbon Eggnog”

    • Yes, I am late making mine this year, too! It will still taste great, but this just gets better the longer it sits, so if you have any leftover (doubtful) it will taste even better after a few days.

  1. Do you recommend adding the half and half and whipped cream just before serving or can it be held for a bit after adding them? Looking forward to making a batch!


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