It's that time of year again — the one tiny window of opportunity for nog enthusiasts to revel in their confounding love of egg-laced alcoholic punch. At best, the drink annually dons a patina of acceptability for a week, maybe two — so in fairness, it's understandable that its proponents would find themselves more or less rutting around in vats of the stuff right about now (bless their presumably nog-clogged hearts).
Ardent nog souse Drew Lazor this week in the Daily News went so far as to call out the "anti-nog lobby" for waging a "War on Eggnog." And as much as that sounds like a war we'd like to fight, Lazor snakily went on to provide a reasoned and insightful look at some of the most worthy variations on nog being prepared by the best bartenders in Philly.
If there's a war on, it's personal, so forgive this rare first-person digression: In truth, I approach eggnog like I try to approach most any other food or drink I don't particularly like — with the same kind of interest I have in foods I love. I want to know what talented people who love it can do with it, and I even have faith I'll enjoy the very best of the best. (But kindly understand if I have sucked down one too many questionably textured family recipes out of politeness to approach the punchbowl at your holiday party without some trepidation. And please, spare me anything poured out of a carton without any alcohol in it — come on, why — or any baked goods or specialty coffee drinks that purport to be "eggnog-flavored." I'll leave those to the true fans and find other ways to fend off a potential nutmeg deficiency, thanks.)
But yes, an unfailing interest in alcohol and a little general curiosity can work wonders, so maybe the pro- and anti-nog contingents can find some common ground after all. Amongst all the nog tributes published this holiday season, Lazor and others have uncovered a wealth of information on some preparations around Philly that might be worth sampling even if you (rightly) feel that carrying your booze in a sweetly spiced vehicle of cream and eggs is maybe just a little bit gross. Here's a quick rundown for your perusal:
Lazor's piece draws insight from the widely beloved bartenders at Rex 1516 (which featured a historic take), Emmanuelle, A.Bar, and Sassafras, where the drink gets a local touch from Dad's Hat Rye and Art in the Age's Snap liqueur.
For the Inquirer, Elisa Ludwig casts a wider net, gathering recipes and tips on a variety of holiday drinks. She touches on mulled wine and hot buttered rum, both of which can be almost as polarizing as eggnog. But she finds two interesting takes on eggnog at Vernick, including a warm Tom and Jerry — "If you're not careful you can end up with an omelet instead of a cocktail," bartender JB Bernstein admits to Ludwig — and a lightened-up milk punch variation.
Food & Wine highlighted five notable eggnog "reinventions" around the country, including a version by Dan Carr at the Fat Ham. His "pillowy," whipped-up drink is bruleed and involves a mix of liquors, including rum, Madeira, and pear eau de vie.
If you're still not quite ready to dive in, a recommendation from Joe Sixpack might help bridge the gap: The columnist named a "rich, creamy" eggnog stout from Spring House Brewing Co. one of his favorite Christmas beers this year. Hey, at least you'll be able to say you tried.