By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated December 29, 2014
Credit: © Carey Jones

Sure, eggnog is now filling up the dairy cases at your local grocery stores, but making it yourself is really, really easy. And we promise that the moment you shake up a homemade batch is the moment you decide to never buy off the shelves again.

The traditional eggnog recipe uses both milk and cream, but you can make it easier on yourself by just using half-and-half. From there, all you need: eggs, ice, booze, and grated nutmeg. (Some garnishes are optional. Nutmeg on eggnog is absolutely not—leaving nutmeg out of eggnog is like leaving pumpkin pie sans pumpkin pie spices.) And if you're looking to impress a whole crowd of relatives, just multiply any of these recipes by six, eight, whatever you need—and if the numbers get high enough, swap out the cocktail shaker for a blender.

NOTE: If you use a blender, don’t use ice—just stick the whole blender jar in the fridge to chill down. You don't want to blend your eggnog smoothie-style.)

Easy: Bourbon Flip

When you hear the word "flip," in the cocktail world, it means a cocktail with a full egg in it. (Originally, it was a beer-rum-sugar cocktail whose heat fluffed it up and turned into a froth, but it evolved to a cold-egg method whose egg fluffed it up.) These days, the basic flip format is a spirit, a sweetener, egg, and when you grate some nutmeg on top, you've basically got a lighter rendition of eggnog.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine two ounces of bourbon, 3/4 ounce honey syrup (equal part honey dissolved in hot water), one whole egg, and two dashes of Angostura bitters if you have them. Shake that all up without ice; add ice and shake again; strain into a rocks glass without ice. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Intermediate: Triple Threat

Traditional eggnogs might have bourbon, or rum, or Scotch; this guy has all three. If we were marshaling nine reindeer around the planet in the dead of night, we'd want one of these at every stop. Drink responsibly.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine an ounce of bourbon, an ounce of dark rum, an ounce of blended Scotch (we like the smoky-peaty Black Grouse), an ounce of half-and-half, an ounce of demerara syrup (equal parts Sugar in the Raw and hot water) and a whole egg. Shake that all up without ice; add ice and shake again; strain into a rocks glass sans ice. Garnish with grated nutmeg and a large cinnamon stick.

Advanced: Frothy-Topped Eggnog

The above recipes make use of whole eggs, but we recommend separating your eggs for maximum 'nog enjoyment. Use the yolks for a super-rich eggnog base and then use the whites for a pleasantly frothy crown on top. Here's a cocktail that does just that. And don’t worry, this sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is.

Instructions: First, beat an egg white. Feel free to use an eggbeater, but if you want to have some fun you can use the bartender method, beating the egg white in a shaker using the same technique used for whipped cream here. Beat or shake until the white is frothy, then pour into a glass and set aside for the moment.

NOTE: If you've got some extra egg white sticking to your shaker (that's not a euphemism) pour a little club soda carefully down the side of the tin, which will strip out the egg white and get you the frothy head you're looking for (also not a euphemism.)

For the actual ‘nog: In a shaker without ice, combine two ounces of dark rum, one ounce of simple syrup (equal parts sugar dissolved in hot water), an ounce of half-and-half, and a whole egg. Shake all that up without ice, then add ice and shake again. Strain into a festive glass and top it off with that egg froth you've set aside. Garnish with grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon.