By David Nelson
Photos by Sergio Fernandez
Eggnog is about as cool as a Christmas sweater: sufferable while Grandma's in the house, then avoided until she returns next year.
Though perhaps too stodgy for nightlife hotspots, the egg-and-dairy-based alcoholic beverage-a traditional holiday favorite since Victorian times-is enjoying rediscovery, thanks to some crafty local bartenders who've turned it into a velvety cocktail that manages to be hip while stirring images of stockings over the hearth and reindeer tracks in the snow.
There may be no snow this far south, but yule love the brain freeze.
Eggnog is most commonly spiked with rum, whiskey or brandy, but Anthony Schmidt, general manager and chief bartender at Noble Experiment in East Village, never settles for the ordinary. His take on the beverage, the Andalusian Flip-named after Spain's sherry-producing region-relies on a blend of VSOP Cognac and sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry for its kick. Orgeat, an almond syrup sold at better liquor stores, intensi?es the nutty sweetness, making for a smooth and spicy taste sensation.
777 G St., East Village
Heavy cream whipped to soft peaks and combined with melted vanilla ice cream gives rich body to the Hibiscus Highlands Eggnog, a holiday specialty of Burlap in Del Mar. Chris Simmons, co-founder of the Smoke and Mirrors
Cocktail Company and Burlap's chief beverage whiz, gives his nog-coction a south-of- the-border ?air, adding Gran Centenario Rosangel Hibiscus Tequila and Fruitlab Hibiscus Organic Liqueur to the mouthwatering mix.
12995 El Camino Real
Ste. 21, Del Mar
Self-proclaimed "proud booze nerd" Jennifer Queen, a partner in the Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. and co-designer of the drinks menu at North Park's URBN, has created a signature nog just for you, dear Paci?cSD lover, that conveys holiday fun with every sip. Called "It's a Wonderful Life," Queen's custom quaff-which caps a creamy, cognac-and-rum treat with two ounces of Hefeweizen beer-is not only a memorable nog but also a refreshing nod to San Diego's role as a craft brewing capital. Cheers!
It's a Wonderful Life: PacificSD's Signature Eggnog
(Yields one serving)
1 ounce Kelt VSOP Cognac
½ ounce Ron Zacapa spiced rum
½ ounce cream
½ ounce spiced sweet potato reduction
(1 large diced sweet potato, 1 cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon each allspice and cinnamon, 2 cups of water-all simmered and reduced by half, then strained)
2 ounces Hefeweizen beer
1 pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg
Combine all except beer and spices in shaker and shake vigorously, until contents are emulsi?ed. Then add ice, shake until frothy, strain into glass and top with beer and spices.
3085 University Ave.