What: A correctly made eggnog, made with a half gallon of store-bought or handmade eggnog (milk, raw eggs, and sugar), a half gallon of French vanilla ice cream, liberal amounts of dark rum or cognac, and a heaping of nutmeg.
Why: The story goes that eggnog’s name comes from the phrase “egg and grog,” grog being the most piratical term for a rum and water, and while that’s probably not true, this is the time of year for stories that might seem a bit suspect. There’s the one about a kindly preacher who, after being tortured, impaled, and fatally dehydrated, came back and forgave us our trespasses. There’s the other one about the single dram of oil that burned for eight times as long as oil can burn, in service of a banished people. And there’s still another about an overstuffed toymaker who glides a caribou-piloted sled silently onto the roofs of the world, clambers down chimneys, and lays festive offerings at the base of indoor fir trees. Not one of those makes a lick of sense. But that’s not the point. The point is that this is a time of year to put aside logic, and get together in celebration of family and untenable stories. And it’s also time to put aside the logic that raw eggs can kill you, that ice cream and rum can lead you to ruin, and that nutmeg is a psychoactive poison. Because man, they taste good together.
Impact: Sales of store-bought eggnog have quadrupled in the last 50 years, and yet stores will only stock it for about six weeks out of the year. Eggnog sales drop off a cliff the day after New Years. It remains one of the few beverages with a season, and for good reason. If you drank eggnog all year round, you’d quadruple too.
Personal Connection: I have been making this for nigh on thirty Christmases, having been taught the recipe by my mom’s soon-to-be-husband Charlie. Evon doesn’t drink the stuff, so I often have to drink an entire gallon of ice-cream-infused eggnog by myself. I live a hard life.
Other Contenders: teaching children to gamble with a dreidel and chocolate coins; threatening children with captivity and devourment at the hands of Krampus, Saint Nick’s demonic sidekick; terrorizing children with Maurice Sendak’s tiger-people and giant mice at the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker; laughing at children’s impossible task of memorizing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”; and, after all that, bribing those same children with presents so that they come to expect nothing less for the rest of their awesome lives.