Nick Bennett's experiment in aging.
A few holiday seasons ago, Nick Bennett, head bartender at Porchlight in New York City, realized his eggnog base–a combination of eggs, sugar, and booze–only got better after a year spent sitting in the back of the fridge. It sounds perilous, but studies show that after three weeks in a chilled environment, the healthy percentage of alcohol (a minimum of 15–20%) kills off any dangerous bacteria. It also develops complex flavors, much like aging wine or spirits. “When finally mixed with the cream and milk, you get these aromatic compounds of banana and pineapple coming through,” Bennett says. Though he keeps his for a year at least, he says as little as three to six weeks is enough to make a noticeable difference.
For the base:
- 12 whole large eggs
- 18 oz. sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups bourbon
- 1⁄2 cup cognac
- 1⁄3 cup dark rum
- pinches salt
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1⁄4 oz. whole milk
- 1⁄4 oz. heavy cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish
- With an electric mixer on low speed, whisk the eggs and the sugar until smooth. Pouring very slowly so as not to curdle the eggs, whisk in the bourbon, cognac, and rum. Stir in a pinch each of salt and freshly grated nutmeg, then strain the mixture into a large sanitized glass jar and seal tightly. To age the eggnog base, refrigerate it for 3 weeks or up to 2 years, shaking the jar at least once per month.
- To serve, in a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ¾ fluid ounces of the eggnog base, the milk, and the heavy cream. Shake until frothy and the shaker feels cold, about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and top lightly with freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.