How To Serve Eggnog To A Big Crowd

You have a beautiful vision of a crowd of your favorite people all sipping little cups of eggnog at your holiday party. That's all well and good until it comes down to the final hour, when you realize you might not know exactly how to serve eggnog to a bunch of people. This is no time to wing it.

Daisy Ryan, assistant beverage director at Austin, Texas-based McGuire Moorman Hospitality, serves eggnog on Christmas Eve at fine-dining restaurant Jeffrey's. Everyone in attendance enjoys a glass (or two), and that's a lot of nog, frankly. Here are her tips for pulling off this classic holiday drink — meant to be enjoyed in large format — in style.

Making it ahead and storing it for later

Eggnog is actually better when it sits for at least 24 hours. Some people even go so far as to serve "aged" eggnog. Like a good soup, the flavors bind together better. There will be a couple of extra steps you have to take the day of serving, but most of labor will be done.

What makes our recipe unique

I use this recipe for Christmas Eve at Jeffrey's. It's a classic recipe other than using maple syrup as a sweetener. Also, most eggnog recipes will usually call for only bourbon or rum, but ours uses both as well as cognac, which I think makes it more luxurious. Because eggnog is so rich and decadent, I think getting too crazy with flavors makes it unappealing.

Essentials for making eggnog for a large party

Buy better ingredients. When making the nog, I would spring for the local, albeit slightly more pricey dairy products at your supermarket. Seeing as dairy is more than half this drink, it will taste even better. You'll definitely want a large punch bowl and ladle to serve your eggnog. It's beautiful and practical because the ladle can also be used as a way to stir the drink throughout the evening, as anything containing dairy (or juice for that matter) will start to separate from the alcohol.

Go all fancy! I think the snowy white of the nog looks most festive in a silver or cut-crystal bowl. You can find very fairly priced vintage punch bowl sets on Etsy or eBay, as everyone's granny had one during the '50s and '60s. If your punch bowl doesn't come with little handled punch glasses (most do), the smaller the vessel, the better as this is clearly a rich drink.

Keep it chilled. You either want to sit the bowl inside of another bowl with ice or place several large ice cubes in the drink. Small ice cubes will melt too fast and won't do you much good. If you have a Bundt cake mold, you can make a very pretty ice ring to place in the center of the bowl and even freeze decorative orange slices or cinnamon sticks inside of it.

How to decorate and present it

Transfer the eggnog to your crystal or silver punch bowl and garnish simply with grated nutmeg. Find an empty surface to place the bowl and glasses for everyone to see. I usually surround the bowl with Christmas-tree bows or garlands, but oranges, persimmons and pomegranates makes for lovely decor as well. Why not throw a poinsettia in there as well?

Jeffrey's Christmas Eve Eggnog

Makes 25Ingredients

  • 12 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup super fine sugar
  • 1/2 grade A maple syrup
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6 cups heavy cream, plus a little more for garnish
  • 1 cup Four Roses Bourbon
  • 1/2 cup El Dorado 8 Rum
  • 1/2 cup Pierre Ferrand Xo Cognac
  • Whipped ream, nutmeg for garnish
  • Directions

  • Beat yolks in a very large bowl until thick and pale. Slowly beat in sugar. Whisk in milk and 2 cups cream.
  • Mix in bourbon, rum, and Cognac. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
  • Just before serving, beat whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into eggnog.
  • Whisk remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form, and fold into eggnog.
  • Alternatively, you can fold half the whipped cream into eggnog, and top with remaining half.
  • Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.