It Is Christmas Eve


In our house, we stretch Christmas out for as long as possible. We have family over for Christmas Eve dinner, which typically consists of Swedish Meatballs and strong ginger-beer, and then afterwards, we do our inter-family gift giving. On Christmas Day, we open the gifts from Santa, as well as gifts from family and friends who are located elsewhere in the world. Then we clean everything up as best we can, and that evening, we have a open house/potluck for our local friends who have also spent a significant amount of time with their family and now have an overwhelming urge to go somewhere where they can drink strong eggnog and vent. The day after that, we sleep in and walk around in our pajamas all day. Livin’ Large.

This year, as part of our party invites, we encouraged our friends to each bring a favorite eggnog recipe, and we will let them duke it out. My entry comes via a delightful little book that Kaja found for me known as The Gentleman’s Companion (an Exotic Drinking Book) by Charles H. Baker, Jr., which was published in the late 30’s. Apparently Chuck was a rich layabout who avoided Prohibition by traveling the world through the 20’s and 30’s while drinking like a fish. Each of the recipes contains a fascinating little snippet about when and where he collected it, and they provide a delightful glimpse at a long gone world. This is a book you can just crack open and start reading and find solid entertainment, as well as a desire to drink copiously. Charles’ recipe for eggnog is different from the usual run, in that it does not use cream, and thus: “…is more refreshing and not so likely to be gastrically disastrous as the over-rich customary formulae we have consumed on certain festive occasions.”

The whole book reads like that. Interestingly, there is a companion volume dedicated to cooking, which is notably less rhapsodic in its writing. I think it’s pretty obvious that there was much testing going on while the book was being written. Anyway, here is the recipe. Because Chuck lived for this stuff, he gives the measurements in ‘ponies’. A pony is 1 fluid ounce (or 29.57 mL);

1/2 pony of good cognac
2 ponies of good Spanish dry sherry
1/4 pony of Carta de Oro Bacardi
1 tsp of sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup chilled, whole milk

Beat egg yolk and sugar together.
Add spirits and 4 cubes of ice.
Stir or shake briskly, strain into goblet, add cold milk and dust with both nutmeg & cinnamon on top.

If you try it, let us know if you liked it, and if you didn’t- happy holidays anyway!