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Twas the ‘nog
before Christmas

by Kat Turner

No trip to Midnight Mass, or Christmas morning would be complete in my family without the thick heady buzz one can achieve with a generously spiked egg nog. My brother-in-law and I make this every year without fail, as my mother did for the many years prior, before she passed us the brandy soaked torch.

The original recipe comes from Helen Corbitt’s self-titled 1957 cookbook; an absolute masterpiece of mid-century gustatory pleasures such as “Celestial Oysters” and “Chicken Fricassee”. For those of you who don’t know, Helen Corbitt was the head chef and culinary director for Neiman Marcus in Dallas TX for 15 years, the first woman to receive the “Golden Plate Award”, and was described in a 1975 Chicago Tribune piece as the “Balenciaga of food and the best cook in Texas”. 

My mother always cut the recipe in half (which still makes a formidable batch) and changed out the bourbon for rum (Mount Gay Eclipse). I in turn add a nice splash of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and finish the glass with a slash of bitters.

Eggnog (for 15)

12 large pasture-raised eggs, separated


1 cup of sugar


1 nice pinch of Maldon salt


1 pint golden rum (I like Mount Gay Eclipse)


1 cup brandy (Don’t overthink it, Korbel will do you just fine)


4 ounces St Elizabeth Allspice Dram (optional)


1 pint organic heavy cream


1 quart organic whole milk


1 pint organic vanilla bean ice cream


Whole nutmeg for grating


Angostura bitters


Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and nice pinch of Maldon salt until thick and ribbony. Add the rum, brandy, and allspice dram and stir thoroughly. The liquor “cooks” the eggs (I’m not sure if this is actually true but Helen says it is and no one in my family has ever gotten sick, so…). Add the milk and cream and continue whipping. Break up the ice cream and add. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in, and if you’ve got a copper bowl like my mother does use that- whites whip like a dream. Pour the eggnog into a fancy punch bowl (or just use that Ikea bowl you mixed it in) and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Lightly grate nutmeg over the top and serve each glass with a slash of bitters.

As Helen says- this is a drinkable eggnog, not too thick, but speaks with authority… you’ll undoubtedly be speaking with authority after a couple of these as well.




Kat Turner is a Los Angeles based chef who has spent the last 9 years working privately for A-list clients all over the globe.
See what Kat is making and eating on Instagram!

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