Real eggnog has a lot going for it — a velvety texture, that heady nutmeg scent, and a bang of booze, to start. In my family, it's a tradition: On Thanksgiving weekend, we whip together cognac or bourbon or rum (I mean hey, who's picky?) with a rich mixture of egg yolks, milk, heavy cream, and sugar. We keep it in the fridge in the garage in a giant ceramic crock and, following my uncle's tradition, we stir and taste every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the emphasis on the tasting. Before serving, we fold whipped egg whites in, for body, and then dust it with a grating of fresh nutmeg. By then, the liquor has mellowed out, making it infinitely (read: dangerously) smooth and drinkable.
But what if, say, you're not drinking alcohol? Or you don't do dairy? Or you've already gone way over your holiday sugar limit? I love celebrating the holidays, but I often find that by late December, I'm full up on the libations and already thinking of my next resolution. Cue the search for an eggnog alternative.
After extensive tinkering, I settled on an irresistible mixture of almond milk and coconut water that smacks of horchata, once you add a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg — and it's that nutmeg scent, I realize now, that makes eggnog taste so much like home for me.
It doesn't have the same viscosity of its boozy cousin, which means it doesn't fill you up as much — a plus when you're excited to enjoy the entire holiday meal without overdoing it (again). It takes next to no planning or preparation.
It's not eggnog, but it's what eggnog offers: something sweet and tasty, fabulously aromatic, and fun to share with friends.
The Best Eggnog That's Not Eggnog
Freshly ground nutmeg
Pour the coconut water and almond milk over ice (one giant ice cube, if you have them) in a tumbler. Add the vanilla, and stir to blend, then garnish with the cinnamon stick and a dusting of nutmeg.