Whether it is tradition or merely a coping mechanism to get through hours on end with your relatives, there is no use denying you will be consuming at least one requisite cup of Egg Nog this holiday season. When craving this festive staple, the effort to whip up your own may seem too much to tackle and the stuff from the carton is usually disappointingly full of cloying sweetness and pours like thick, faux yellow goop. Yet there are a few quality "Nogs" out there for the taking. Here are five you can find at local markets that are affordable and great on their own or with our suggested boozy options:
In the Bottle
In the Bottle
Straus Family Creamery- A California brand that has a lot going for it. Beautifully bottled in a deposit-worthy, glass container, it boasts the simplest ingredients (organic whole milk, organic cream, organic sugar, organic egg yolk, organic nutmeg) and is by far the creamiest of the bunch. It is also, unfortunately, a little underwhelming in the spice department. However, if you want a drink that will not assault your taste buds with sugar, this is the one for you. Pairing it with Captain Morgan should sufficiently increase its complexity for a tasty hot or cold Nog'tail. You can find it at PCC.
Twin Brook Creamery- This glass-bottled darling made in Lynden, Washington and found at Metropolitan Market is by no means lacking in sweetness, making it a top pick for kids. They aren't organic, but do carry a Kosher certification. Milk,
sugar, egg yolks, dried whey, guar gum, carregeenan, corn starch, salt, nutmeg and turmeric are blended for a not-so-natural-but-nice finish. Heat and mix with Southern Comfort for a delightfully grown-up after dinner drink.
Fresh Breeze Organic- Also based in Lynden, FBO boasts being local and from the milk of grass fed cows, yet it is surprisingly low-priced at Whole Foods (even with the bottle deposit). Made of all highly certified organics (milk, cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and nutmeg) this Nog has a smooth texture, and the best overall flavor, but is surprisingly thin upon pouring. Shake with some Vanilla Stoli and serve as a shot or on the rocks.
In the Carton
Organic Valley - Mild, pleasantly smooth, perfectly seasoned and easy to find, this brand is made of organic grade A milk, organic fair trade unrefined cane sugar, organic cream, organic eggs, organic egg yolks, organic nonfat milk, organic fair trade vanilla flavor, organic nutmeg, and carrageenan. Colin from PCC West Seattle, who set me up with a taste test of fine Nogs from their store, recommends pairing it merrily with Maker's Mark.
Trader Joe's Premium Egg Nog- Not exactly natural, but nominally priced at $2.69, TJ's Egg Nog rounds out our list. Is it as good as the fresh creameries'? Nope. But when compared to other supermarket brands like Darigold, it is pretty darn pleasing. This blend isnot crazy sweet, even though you'll see it has a ton of sugar and corn syrup. It is also the most ingredient-heavy recipe, featuring: milk, cream, sugar, egg nog base (corn syrup, egg yolks, sugar, "natural flavors", nutmeg, turmeric, annatto extract [for color] citric acid), non-fat milk solids, stabilizer (guar gum, carrageenan, locust bean gum, sugar), and vitamin D3. This nog has a nice consistency, and would be great with coffee liquor and a splash of hot water or a regular ol' cup of Joe. TJ's also does Egg Nog in a "light" version with skim milk.