It’s that time of year! The time when my wife gets super excited, buys an entire half-gallon of eggnog, and then only drinks about a third of the carton before it’s left in the fridge to go bad. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of eggnog, even as a cocktail — but maybe that’s just because I haven’t found the right spirit to mix into that milky creamy concoction? Today, I’ve decided to mildly torture myself by trying spiked eggnog with nine of the most popular spirits on the market to see if I can’t find the “perfect” one for your holiday toast.
Here’s the setup: we grabbed a bunch of mini bottles of spirits from the local liquor shelf that pretty fairly (in our opinion) represent some of the most common spirits on people’s shelves. We mixed each spirit in a 5:1 ratio with five parts regular, full-fat eggnog purchased from our local grocery store (shout out HEB!) and one part of spirit. I only got mildly nauseous from the amount of sugar and dairy I consumed; the effects on my waistline remain to be seen.
And now, I present you with our comprehensive review of those cocktails, ordered from worst to best.
9. Scotch (Johnny Walker Black)
It’s the smoke in the scotch whisky that really is the nail in the coffin here. That smoke flavor combined with the inherent components in the eggnog leave this mixture tasting like you are licking the tires on an old used car: oily, acerbic, and generally awful.
Read More: Johnny Walker Black Review
This was my first time trying Jagermeister (a fact that shocked my wife), and I can’t say that I’m a fan. At least based on this setup. It tastes like an overly boozy version of absinthe or pastis, very heavy on the black licorice without very much else to support it. That licorice flavor is a dealkiller in this profile, not nearly as bad as the scotch but pretty darn close.
7. Gin (Tanqueray)
I have never found a recipe for eggnog that calls for gin, and I think I found out why. The flavors just don’t go together at all, with the brash and bright juniper clashing against the mellow vanilla and cinnamon of the eggnog. What ends up happening is that all of the balance and complexity is stripped out of the gin and the juniper is all that remains, meaning it tastes like you’re taking a bite out of a Christmas tree. Hard pass.
Read More: Tanqueray Gin Review
6. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
There’s already a good amount of cinnamon in the eggnog to start, so adding more cinnamon is not helping the situation at all. Plus, there’s plenty of sugar already in the pre-mixed nog, meaning you are just making it even more tooth-destroyingly-sweet by adding a sugary spirit like Fireball. It isn’t patently offensive, which means it scores above the rest of the pack so far… but that doesn’t mean I like it.
Read More: Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey Review
5. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
The words “aggressively mediocre” come to mind here. There’s not a whole lot of flavor in Jack Daniel’s as it is, so what you are really doing here is adding a bit of banana and some booze to the flavor profile. This would probably be a better idea with something like a rye or a richer bourbon, but something as weak as standard Jack Daniel’s isn’t going to make a huge difference.
Read More: Jack Daniel’s Review
4. Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
This is the point at which I might voluntarily drink this thing. While this was still very sweet (much like Fireball, the peanut butter whiskey comes with a good helping of extra sugar), the flavors actually make sense and compliment each other to create something somewhat enjoyable. I don’t think I’d want to do more than a shot or two of this, but I also wouldn’t run screaming in the opposite direction if offered.
Read More: Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey Review
3. Cognac (Ciroc V.S.)
Spirits like cognac are a pretty common recommendation for this Christmas cocktail, and I could see why. Or, rather, I could see glimpses of why. A bottle of VS cognac like the one we tried has some of those nice aging components (dried fruits, nuts, baking spices) that turn this into something close to a sippable fruitcake, but there’s just not enough saturation in those flavors to really bring the concept home. Spring for the better stuff (VSOP or higher) and you should have a good time here.
Read More: Best Brandy
If you’re the kind of person who likes some coffee in your cream (instead of a normal coffee-to-cream ratio), this is for you — because that’s exactly what this is. Using a coffee liqueur like this gives just the right balance of deeper and richer components to make a deliciously drinkable cocktail, and the rum base adds some nice sugary complexity as well.
Read More: Best Rum
1. Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan)
Without a doubt, if I was forced to create an eggnog that I actually enjoyed drinking, a spiced rum is the way to go. Typically, a spiced rum will already include some cinnamon and vanilla in the mix, so all you’re really doing is dosing your eggnog with flavors that are already known to work well together. It adds a delicious depth and complexity to the drink, and makes for something where I might actually go for a voluntary refill of the glass. (Assuming lactose intolerance doesn’t catch up with me first.)
Read More: Captain Morgan Spiced Rum Review
I don’t think the results of today’s testing changed my mind on eggnog: I still think it’s pretty gross, and I’ll probably continue to avoid it given the option in the future. But it’s good to know that there are some versions of this drink that aren’t outright terrible. Spiced rum seems to be a great option, and I’m legitimately curious to see how a VSOP or even an XO cognac works in this mix instead of a younger version.
Let us know in the comments what you think is the best spirit for your holiday eggnog — bonus points if it’s an odd one. Happy holidays and safe drinking!