As someone who has been on strict dietary restrictions in the past, I understand what it is like to feel left out when everyone else is indulging. It is because of that feeling that I set out to make the most delicious egg nog possible that everyone could enjoy. Since, I happen to spend most of my winters in San Diego, for obvious reasons, and we have an abundance of vegans and folks who are lactose intolerant. I wanted to be able to serve them a delicious holiday cocktail that wasn’t merely “almost as good as the real thing,” but every bit as good, if not better than the best nog you could ever make at home.
The first big hurdle to making the perfect vegan nog, was recreating that unique mouth feel that you generally only get from heavy cream and egg. The reason why you find those two ingredients in so many classic styles of cocktail, such as Flips & Alexanders, is because their high fat content gives a body and texture that is impossible to replicate —well almost impossible to replicate.
My initial instinct was to substitute the texture of the missing dairy with a cream liqueur. That should be an easy fix, right? Just toss a little bit of rum in there & boom the cocktail will take care of itself. If only it was that easy. Apparently, there is a complete dearth of dairy-free cream liqueurs on the market. However, after doing some quick research I found that Bailey’s Irish Cream had recently put out an Almond Milk Liqueur, so naturally, I made a quick trip to my local liquor store and picked up a bottle to play with.
If you take one thing from this article, please let it be this: do not put Bailey’s Almond Milk Liqueur in your mouth —or any other opening in your body for that matter. It is terrible. And, I don’t mean “guilty pleasure” terrible, I mean that it is absolutely foul & I have no idea how it even made it to market.
With one strike down, I knew that I had to step up my approach and not look towards an easy fix. Instead, I went deep down the rabbit hole of vegan message boards and searched hard for egg & cream substitutes. I figured that someone else had already solved this issue before, and I was in luck, because it look like plenty of other people already had, in the form of coconut.
Coconuts are high in fat content, and are already very tasty, so I shouldn’t be bumping into any issues with unpleasantness or any off-putting aromas. Coconut seemed like the perfect solution, as it is cheap, plentiful & easy to find. The only downside was that everything I made with it took on a tropical lean, no doubt due to the delightful and lush flavor of the coconut.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good Cocoquito, but that is not what I was trying to create here. Instead, I was trying to emulate a down-home holiday nog that called back to the feeling of sitting around the fire and all of the winter flavors that came with it.
My last option, and probably where I should have started, was milk alternatives such as oat, rice and almond. The trick was to find one with a high enough fat content that it could cover that ground between a milk and a heavy cream. After cleaning out my local grocery store of every milk substitute I could get my hands on, I finally ended up going with a blend of cashew & almond milk made by Silk.
The blend of almond milk and cashew milk, came packing a hearty 8 grams of fat per cup, which is exactly what we needed if we were going to evoke the creaminess of a winter nog. However, the correct viscosity did not start and stop with the nut milk. The proper texture could only be achieved properly if the remaining ingredients could build on the fatty foundation laid down by the base.
In order to maximize the mouthfeel of the nog, we hit it with with two ingredients renowned for bringing body to a cocktail, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth and Falernum, a Caribbean spiced liqueur. However, while liqueurs are great and all, we couldn’t forget the heart of the cocktail, and for this we used a mixture of rum and cognac, both of which work beautifully in holiday cocktails.
Although, this cocktail is going to be on the menu at my bar Raised by Wolves starting this week, and it took me weeks to perfect, I wanted to be sure to share it with all of you, so that no one is left out of the holiday festivities and everyone is able to indulge in the holiday decadence.
I strongly recommend sticking to this exact recipe the first time that you make it, but on the second go around, feel free to switch it up a bit. I can guarantee you that it is delicious with Irish Whiskey or Bourbon instead of Aged Rum, so why not switch it up. With that said, happy holidays to you and your family & cheers!
THE BEST VEGAN EGG NOG EVER
375ml Aged Rum (I used Appleton Estate Signature Blend)
375ml Sweet Vermouth
125ml Falernum (we used Velvet Falernum)
20ml Allspice Dram (we used St Elizabeth Allspice Dram)
85ml Maple Syrup (use the real stuff. None of this Mrs. Butterworth crap)
1500ml Silk Protein Nut Milk (this is the only brand I found that both the correct amount of fat & also tasted great in the drink)
Add everything together in a large pitcher and stir well. You can briefly mix in a blender if you like, but it is not necessary. You mostly just want to make sure that everything goes into solution, particularly the maple syrup. So, it doesn’t just sink to the bottom.
Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
This drink works wonderfully both cold & hot.
To serve cold, stir briefly before serving & pour into a pre-chilled glass.
To serve hot, warm over the stove & pour into a pre-heated mug.
Garnish with Grated Cinnamon & Star Anise