Different folks have different nog needs. The eggnog served at the New Age office party where everyone behaves is not the same kind of nog you sip at home, nodding off by the fire.
I am told that in some quarters, the old eggnog ain't what it used to be. Worried about high cholesterol levels or the remote possibility of food poisoning, some folks have stopped using raw eggs in their nog. Others have dropped the alcohol.
Frankly these nouveau nogs are not my favorites. My nog is old-fashioned, and embattled. Everything in it -- eggs, sugar, cream and bourbon -- has been attacked by some group or other as evil. For me, the pleasure the old nog delivers is worth the risk.
Nonetheless, I recognize the need for diversity in eggnog. So this year I am passing along four recipes. Joining mine in the creamy-boozy category is a recipe for a big batch of nog which Paul R. Collison said his late father, Charles, perfected. "You make it in one of those pots you steam your crabs in," said Paul, who lives in Highland.
Next is the lighter version of a nog that has been in the family of James E. Kelly Jr., of Towson, for about 70 years. It uses substitutes for eggs and cream, but still has booze. It is a big batch made annually at a big bottling party. It has inspired poetry.
Finally, there is the alcohol-free recipe for "cranberry nog" which I got from Sandra O'Brien of the Marriott hotel in Annapolis. It uses cranberry concentrate, which Ms. O'Brien said can be found in the canned juice section of supermarkets.
Happy Eater's eggnog
Makes 8 to 10 cups
2 cups bourbon
1 1/8 cups sugar
6 egg yolks, beaten
4 cups whipping cream
Blend bourbon and sugar in large mixing bowl. Let sit overnight, if you can wait. Beat egg yolks until they turn dark yellow. Add to bourbon mixture. Mix well. Cover and let sit in refrigerator, 2 hours. Whip cream, add to bourbon mixture. Nog starts off very creamy, becomes soupy the longer it survives.
Charlie Collison's eggnog
Makes 30 to 40 cups
12 eggs, separated
1 gallon milk
1 pound granulated sugar
3 to 4 ounces vanilla
1 gallon eggnog ice cream (High's brand)
1 fifth of whiskey
1 pint rum
1/2 pint brandy
Drop yokes in a large bowl, set aside. Put whites in another bowl and make a meringue using hand-held electric mixer gradually folding in 1 to 2 cups sugar. Set meringue aside.
Begin beating yolks, add some milk, some sugar, some more milk and more sugar until mixture is liquid. Stir in remaining sugar, vanilla and remaining milk. Add the ice cream, chopped into chunks, and mix. Pour into cups, top with meringue. Sprinkle with nutmeg to taste.
Kelly's lite eggnog
Makes about 60 cups
48 ounces egg substitute (Healthy Choice brand)
24 ounces granulated sugar (sugar substitutes don't work)
144 ounces light creamer (Farm Rich)
48 ounces blended whiskey
6 ounces rum
6 ounces brandy
8 teaspoons rum extract
4 teaspoons brandy extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
In a large vessel, use hand-held electric mixer and wooden spoon to mix egg substitutes, creamer and sugar. While stirring constantly, dribble in whiskey, then rum, then brandy, then the extracts. Add nutmeg. Serve in 5-ounce cups.
Sandra O'Brien's cranberry nog
Makes 6 cups
4 cups eggnog ice cream
1/4 cup cranberry concentrate
1/4 cup milk
Put ingredients in blender. Blend for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Serve in cups with optional toppings, nutmeg and jellied cranberries.