Love it or hate it, eggnog is the official drink of the holiday season. Many people dismiss it as an overly sweet, spiced creamy custard served up in milk cartons each winter. But bartenders and restaurateurs across America are putting that stereotype to bed this season by handcrafting their own eggnog-inspired cocktails, milkshakes and more.
Whether you're headed to California, Washington D.C., or somewhere in between this holiday season, here are 10 eggnog inspired drinks worth stopping for.
Frozen Eggnog | Small Batch Beer Co.
Frozen eggnog at Small Batch Beer Company — Photo courtesy of Shaina Konzny, Small Batch Beer Company
Unlike most breweries, Small Batch in Winston-Salem, N.C. doesn't stop at brewing great beers. They're also well-known for serving up incredibly popular slushy cocktails, like a frozen gin and tonic, a frozen pomegranate margarita and the Unicorn Frose, but come December, one of their slushie machines is completely dedicated to frozen eggnog.
This holiday favorite starts out with locally-sourced organic eggnog from Homeland Creamery and is combined with Kraken rum before being topped with nutmeg and whipped cream. If you're looking to make a meal out of your visit, Small Batch has a sister restaurant, Burger Batch, where you can also order the frozen eggnog.
Cranky Cran | High and Tight Barbershop
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If you're looking for a space just as unique as the eggnog they offer, then Dallas' High and Tight Barbershop should be on your list. This speakeasy-esque cocktail bar is hidden within an active barbershop and offers live jazz, blues and folk music every night.
This winter, they're offering two eggnog-inspired cocktails that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Making its return this year, the Wonderful World (a 2016 crowd favorite), is a creamy eggnog flip spiked with mulled red wine and Applejack. New to the menu is the Cranky Cran. This cranberry spiced eggnog, topped with whipped cream, incorporates gin, plum bitters, and 100% cranberry juice.
Vegan Eggnog | Equinox DC
Vegan eggnog at Equinox — Photo courtesy of Peter Grimm, Equinox
Not just anyone can pull off a vegan version of the holiday classic, but Equinox in Washington D.C. has done just that. Since opening 20 years ago, the award-winning Equinox has been focused on sharing great food and drinks with the world.
Seven years ago, however, they decided to take that a step further by intentionally creating a space where both steak lovers and vegans can find mouthwatering options. This winter, they include an impressive plant-based eggnog, available with or without alcohol, which provides vegans with the unique opportunity to indulge in the traditional nostalgic drink.
Eggnog Milkshake | Ninety's Sandwiches and Ice Cream
Ninety's homemade eggnog milkshake — Photo courtesy of Ali Witcher, Ninety's Ice Cream
With sandwich names like The Fresh Prince, Tommy Pickles, The Wild Thornberry and Screech Reuben, it's easy to understand why anyone who grew up in the '90s would appreciate the nostalgia offered up at Ninety's. But the Instagram-worthy ice cream sandwiches and milkshakes are the real reason people flock to this family-owned and operated gourmet sandwich and ice cream shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Each milkshake begins with your choice of ice cream and includes a frosting rim with the cereal topping of your choice. If you're visiting in December, go straight for the eggnog milkshake. This non-alcoholic tasty holiday favorite begins with blending Cinnamon Toast Crunch with their homemade vanilla ice cream and an equally delicious homemade eggnog. It is then topped with whipped cream, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Green Eggs and Nog | Peche
The Raven's Eggnog and Green Eggs and Nog at Peche — Photo courtesy of Chris Gaspar, Peche
Austin's first absinthe bar, Peche, is known for serving handcrafted pre-Prohibition-style cocktails alongside classic French comfort food. But if you're in the area before the start of January, it's the "Six Weeks of Eggnog" that make it worth a visit.
Each week during the holiday season, Peche's bartenders offer up a different eggnog-inspired drink. Two worth noting are bartender Chris Gaspar's The Raven and bar manager Shaun Meglan's Green Eggs and Ham Nog. The Raven, a warm and juicy brandy-based eggnog inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's love of the popular holiday drink, incorporates pomegranate liqueur, homemade eggnog, and a hibiscus cinnamon syrup.
Meglan, with his Green Eggs and Ham Nog, pulled inspiration from Dr. Seuss and decided to go for the unusual, creating a green eggnog by combining the nog with matcha, almonds and Japanese whisky. The perfect take on this holiday classic for any lovers of matcha tea.
Zanta, Baby... | Front and Cooper
Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Zanta, Baby... at Front and Cooper — Photo courtesy of Kate Gerwin, Front and Cooper
If you're anywhere even remotely close to Santa Cruz, don't miss out on your chance to check out Front and Cooper at the Abbott Square Market. Front and Cooper offers local craft beers, small batch wines and hand-crafted cocktails with locally-sourced ingredients from nearby artisanal farms. And if you're visiting during winter, be sure to try the Zanta, Baby... flip, designed by world champion bartender Kate Gerwin.
The Zanta, Baby... features tequila, aquavit, homemade coconut cream, pecan syrup, chocolate bitters and a whole egg. And in case that isn't enough to impress you, it's topped with an edible photo of "Ziggy Santa."
Eggnog Beer Cocktail | Smog City Brewing
Smog City's Eggnog Beer Cocktail — Photo courtesy of Jason Briseno, Smog City Brewing
Smog City, an independent craft brewery in Torrance, Calif., is known for their fun and experimental beers that often incorporate fresh, local produce. And this winter, the masterminds behind these creations are bringing back a holiday favorite, the Eggnog Beer Cocktail which begins with the customer's choice of a beer base.
Options include the Coffee Porter, The Nothing (a double chocolate imperial stout named after, you guessed it, The NeverEnding Story), or The Something From Nothing (a "small beer" lighter version of The Nothing). The chosen beer is then topped with foam made from freshly whipped chai spiced eggnog, resulting in the perfect combination of sweet with dark and bitter.
Cajun Eggnog | New Orleans Original Daiquiris
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It may be a rarity to have a white Christmas in New Orleans, but that doesn't mean the people of Louisiana are missing out on the fun of indulging in eggnog. New Orleans Original Daiquiris, a local chain, is known for offering dozens of flavors of frozen daiquiris, everything from Mardi Gras Mash to Peachtree Bellini and Crawgator.
And every year from Halloween to New Year's Eve, a limited edition favorite hits the menu: Cajun Eggnog. This cream-based frozen treat blended with nutmeg and Southern Comfort allows anyone traveling through New Orleans their own opportunity to blend the party experience with a little holiday spirit.
The Cohen Flip | Swordfish Tom's
Kansas City, Mo.
The Cohen Flip at Swordfish Tom's — Photo courtesy of Jill Cockson, Swordfish Tom's
Swordfish Tom's, an intimate pre-prohibition cocktail bar, is tucked away in the basement boiler room of an unassuming industrial building in Kansas City – but this isn't your average speakeasy. Instead of kitsch, owner Jill Cockson has created a cozy environment that encourages guests to slow down, turn off their phones, and focus on one another.
And what better way to do that this winter than by cozying up with a Tom and Jerry? It's a slightly sweeter variant of eggnog that's served hot, typically in the Midwest. Cockson's Tom and Jerry includes rum, brandy, and egg batter and is likened to drinking frosting from a glass.
If you prefer something cold, try the Cohen Flip. In this favorite from Swordfish Tom's Fall/Winter menu, ice is shaken with an egg, Caffe Amaro, brown sugar, nutmeg and rum to create a tasty treat that's even more enjoyable for customers than the political event it was named after.
Along Came Holly | Vault Bar
The Vault Bar's Along Came Holly — Photo courtesy of Nicholas Hamon, Vault Bar
Vault in Fayetteville, Ark. has only been open since May and, yet, they're already establishing themselves as the most progressive bourbon and cocktail bar in the state. The inspiration for its name becomes obvious as soon as you step inside this modern and minimalistic former bank vault where the backdrop is a wall of over 250 whiskeys surrounding the vault door.
While worth a visit any time of year, it's highly recommended that you stop in over the holidays to try award-winning General Manager Shaun Traxler's Along Came Holly. This delightful eggnog is sweetened with a cream sherry caramel, infused with homemade apple cider, cardamom, and pistachio orgeat and is guaranteed to fill you with holiday cheer.