An eggnog recipe and a house show review

by | Dec 22, 2016 | GOOD EATS

The winter solstice played perfect host to a wreath-party/house show in a quiet Randolph split level earlier this week.

The winter solstice played perfect host to a wreath-party/house show in a quiet Randolph split level earlier this week.

Surrounded by friends old and new, a solid group gathered at the house of non-profit music video team Good Day RVA members Chris Damon and Kate Rivara, her sister Monica, and Chris’ brother Andrew. A seasonal mix of music and crafts was made available and it reminded me how much I love this damn town.

Near sunset on the shortest day of the year, I hurried through town for a few last minute gifts and made a pit stop at the liquor store for one of my favorite holiday treats: eggnog.

Now eggnog, or just nog, often elicits a scrunched up face rather than an exciting, cheery grin, but nothing says “holiday season” quite like melted custard mixed with three kinds of liquor.

Dating back centuries, eggnog has long been a mix associated with both the creamy beverage and a “nogged-ale,” though origins are dispute by people who haven’t had enough or maybe had to much. Originally a drink for the wealthy to use at toasts, it’s since been popularized for every joe-shmo with a hankering for sweet party liquor during the winter months.

When you make eggnog, there’s a few important things to remember:

1 – Store bought nog as a base is fine. The less creative the label the better.

It’s all terrible for you; made with sugar, cream, eggs and spices, it’s essentially liquid cookies. Much like pie crusts and pumpkin pie filling, there’s a reason stores sell it pre-made; it’s a pain in the ass to make yourself. They also only really make it for a month and a half a year so who ever spends a bunch of money on branding the product needs to rearrange their priorities and have a glass.

2 – We’re all adults here.

Nog is meant to get you jolly, not bloat you like Santa on his 4,000th plate of cookies. Don’t go light on the booze. If you’ve poured, tried it and think its perfect, you’re wrong and you should add another healthy pour of every liquor in the house. The mix will settle and all the good stuff will rise to the top so you need to put enough merriment in there so there’s a good dose of party in each glass.

3 – Bring extra ice.

If the secret to good nog is an over-seasonal amount of booze, the trick to making it palatable is to serve it cold and slightly watered down. Good nog is thick but has a bit of water at the top for you to help ease it all down. Much like a shaken martini, the added H2O helps soften the blow without having to add more heavy nog-base.

Here’s a better break down of the recipe I use, though you could honestly swap the sweeter booze ingredients with your own favorite, flavored cordials:

1 gallon sized jug with a lid

1 half gallon pre-made eggnog

Half a 750 ml Jim Beam

Half a 750 Brandy

Half a 375 of Fire Ball cinnamon whiskey

Directions: Get a larger, empty jug and pour in about half the carton of nog. You’ll want your nog-vessel to have a lid so you can shake it up. A Homestead Creamery milk jug is PERFECT for this and it travels easily.

Start to pour in your booze and don’t be shy. As with most Christmas parties, “the more the merrier” applies.

After you’ve put each item in, shake the hell out of it and have yourself a sip. Is it too boozy? Add some more nog; be an adult about it.

Is it not boozy enough? Congrats, you’re an adult, but bring the extra nog just in case. In fact, pour the rest of the liquors into the remaining nog-base and bring it with you cause once you can convince enough people that eggnog actually rules, you’re gonna need to make a second batch.

Meanwhile, back at the solstice party, wreath making was underway. These pre-Christmas crafting parties have become an annual event for Kate, an area public school teacher. Ever the craftswoman, her and her sister collected boxwood and evergreen trimmings, berry-clad twigs, pinecones and more, along side empty wreath-wires, and offered an impressive bounty to construct almost-idiot proof Christmas gifts for moms and grandmas a like.

The night continued with Billy Bread and pimento dip along side vegan bean and sweet potato soup. We imbibed and devoured while the dudes from Night Idea began setting up in the cozy living room.

After a few cups of nog, and a disturbing amount of joyous laughter, the house fell quite as Ghost Gathering glided in front of the humming amps to perform an acoustic tea ceremony:

Lead by Mica Whitney and featuring Jameson Price of Lobo Marino, the performance was etherial to say the least. The mix-gender crowd, clad in seasonal red and white, chanted a phrase and poured tea for the crowd. I figured the show, which included a kind of blessing of tea as it was passed, was aligned with the Winter Solecist but if you know Price and Lobo Marino, it’s probably Ghost Gathering’s regular show. It really helps spiritually elevate a party.

They left just as mysteriously as they entered. It was something you really don’t get to expereince too often unless your at a house show for a local non-profit video producer and his crafty, Earth-first significant other. I fucking love this town.

By the time Ghost Gathering ended their set it was already getting late and the awesomely respectful trend of house shows ending before midnight was to be strictly adhered to. It couldn’t have been 10 mins before Night Idea turned the living room into a groovy prog spot.

The band dropped their third record, Breathing Cold, earlier this year. Its mathy-jamz helped fuel good times until around 11 PM when the party separated leaving only splashes of nog and several wreaths-worth of wintery clippings on the ground.

Thanks for the good show, RVA!

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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