Our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party is fast approaching. The sweaters have been purchased: sequined reindeer sweater for me, neon elf sweater for hubby Patrick. My man has pulled out our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, bought 200 feet of tinsel garland, and is hoping the Christmas Story “fragilé” leg lamp he ordered gets here on time.
Now we need a tasty eggnog, so a few mornings ago my friend Bernice popped over for a taste test. We started with the Mountain Dairy Lowfat Egg Nog. “You can tell it’s lowfat. If I’m having eggnog, I want a creamy eggnog.”
Sipping the next offering, she said, “And this [Mountain Dairy Vanilla Egg Nog] tastes like a vanilla milkshake from In-N-Out, not eggnog [$3.59 for a half gallon of both varieties at Ralphs].”
The sweetness in the Alta Dena Holiday Eggnog was overpowering. Its cousin, the Alta Dena Honey Sweetened Eggnog, tasted like honey and cinnamon but not eggnog ($3.29 for a quart of each variety at Albertsons).
“Part of the interest with eggnog is the thick, whipped, frothiness of it,” stated Patrick, “and this Albertsons Light Egg Nog misses that. It’s watery. With this full-strength Albertsons variety, I’m just getting corn syrup [$2.49 for one quart of each].”
“This bottle wins the advertising award,” announced Bernice, holding up the bottle of CM Christmas Milk ($6.99 for a quart). “The elves’ favorite drink,” reads the bottle.
“Yeah, but the orange hue is a bit off-putting,” noticed Patrick, “and I’m getting no hint of egg nog — just flavored vanilla creamer.”
We finally hit a winner with the Trader Joe’s Egg Nog ($2.69 for a quart). “This is the first one that I can actually see spice flecks,” said Bernice. “It would present itself nicely in a bowl, and it has a balanced sweet-and-spice flavor.”
The light version: Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog did not pass the taste test. “Pours like milk,” offered Bernice, “and without the creamy, you get water flavor and then a clobbering of nutmeg [$2.69 for a quart].”
Bernice’s eyes lit up when I handed her the Southern Comfort Traditional Egg Nog ($3.49 for a quart at Albertsons). “Does it come pre-spiked?” she asked.
“Sadly, no,” Patrick answered. “This tastes very different than the others. Sweeter than the Trader Joe’s Egg Nog, more egg flavor, fluffy and spicy. It would stand up nicely to some liquor.”
“But this [Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice Egg Nog] would not,” Bernice said ($3.49 for a quart at Ralphs). “Too thin, tastes like french-toast batter — just egg and vanilla.”
“There are two egg nog essentials,” pronounced Patrick. “It has to be frothy, and it must have the spicy smell of the holidays. These two [Lucerne Holiday Eggnog and the Lucerne Light Eggnog] lack the frothiness [$2.99 for a quart of each at Vons].”
“Ugh, I’m feeling a little queezy,” moaned Bernice. “Too much of a good thing.”
“But we must forge ahead,” encouraged Patrick.
Forge ahead, we did...to the organic selections. Clover Organic Farms Organic Eggnog ($4.99 for a quart at Whole Foods) was the favorite. “There’s a freshness to the creamy flavor that is delightful,” offered Bernice.
Horizon Organic Lowfat Eggnog ($4.99 for a quart at Alberstons) was just 140 calories per half-cup. “I would not know that was lowfat — by far the creamiest of the lowfat ones,” said Bernice.
“Too sweet,” grimaced Patrick, “and it smells like some kind of cleaning agent.”
Organics Valley Organic Egg Nog ($4.99 a quart at Whole Foods) was “a little thin on the pour,” noted Bernice, “but the flavor is a perfect blend of sweet and nutmeg.”
For fun, I wanted to taste some flavored nogs: pumpkin spice, gingerbread, vanilla cinnamon. But my tasters weren’t happy. “I’m a little upset that people would mess with eggnog,” announced Bernice.
“I agree,” said Patrick. “Since when is straight eggnog not good enough? I blame Starbucks for starting this pumpkin-spice craze.”
Of the Hood brand and Lucerne specialty nogs, the best was the Hood Gingerbread Egg Nog ($2.99 for a quart at Ralphs). “The others are horror shows, but this I could drink,” said Patrick, “with three parts bourbon and one part eggnog.”