Smoky Irish Eggnog

14 Dec 2012

For the second year in a row we journeyed down to the wood and selected a tree to cut down for Christmas. Last year, it took some persuading as I had a certain urban Amerian-ised vision of what choosing your tree should look like, and it was admittedly a bit less rustic than the cut-your-own version. I have such fond memories of Christmas markets with old-fashioned C7 lights strewn along city blocks lined with beautiful Blue Spruces, long-needled Scots Pines, and families of fantastic Firs; all propped up and waiting patiently to be chosen and taken home to be delicately dressed in decoration.

I have learned my lesson. It is beyond special to cut down your own tree, from your family forest, that was planted (with caring foresight) by your father-in-law years ago. I believe the trees in the wood are Firs. But, it wouldn’t matter if it they were Birch or Yew, it’s all about the wonderful little snapshot of time spent together as a family during the holidays. Our last two trees have to be the best trees I’ve ever had at Christmas.  We will be planting a few more rows in the Springtime to keep the tradition alive.

I decided to make eggnog instead of mulled wine to sip on while trimming the tree this year. Eggnog is a classic holiday tipple that is enjoyed by many in the USA during the holidays. It is essentially a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk or cream, sugar, and whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). It can be made with or without liquor so it is perfect for both little ones and adults alike. I recall seeing it in a supermarket here in Ireland when I first arrived, but it hasn’t been back on the shelves since.

Luckily {like everything} eggnog is better homemade. And, using fresh milk + cream from the farm to prepare it can’t be beat. For the grown up version, I went with an Irish variation and added a jigger of the super smoky and spectacular Connemara peated single malt whiskey instead of using American bourbon and rum. I also used a drop of Bittercube Bolivar Bitters, (optional) which are very herbal with beautiful cassia and dried fruit notes. The result is the smokiest, most velvety smooth, fruitcake-y festive eggnog.

I decided it would be prudent to include a special recipe for the splendid Snowball cocktail here as well. I was introduced to the Snowball when my lovely friend from Britain brought Advocaat to a dinner party a few years ago and insisted it was eggnog. While it is not the eggnog we are accustomed to in America, it does contain eggs and is very popular holiday spirit in the UK.   The Snowball is a bit like a dreamsicle in flavour; delicious and fun to serve at a holiday cocktail party. Both Advocaat & Connemara Irish Whiskey are available at fine liquor stores in the USA.


Smoky Irish Eggnog

Serves 4-6.


4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar (you can use less if preferred, it will still taste lovely)

2 cups milk

2 whole cloves

Pinch of cinnamon

1 cup cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 drops of Bittercube Bolivar Bitters {or similar woodsy, fruity, herbal bitters} (optional)

2-3 Tbsp of Connemara Irish Whiskey {or similar Peat smoked Whiskey or Scotch} (omit for kid-friendly eggnog)


In a large bowl, use a whisk or an electric mixer to beat egg yolks until they become lighter in color. Slowly add the sugar, beating after each addition, whisking until fluffy.

Combine the milk, cloves, and cinnamon in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Slowly heat on medium heat until the milk mixture is steamy hot, but not boiling.

Temper the eggs by slowly adding half of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly while you add the hot mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. {Or, if you are nervous about scrambling, wait 5-10 minutes for milk to cool down a bit and then whisk in the eggs}

Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to thicken slightly, and coats the back of the spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or it will curdle. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, vanilla and bitters, if using.  Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the cloves. Let cool for one hour.

Mix in nutmeg and whiskey. Chill. 

Sip by the fire. 

The Snowball

1 jigger of Advocaat

1 jigger of fizzy lemonade (sweet-n-sour or sprite would work too)

1 jigger of fresh lime juice

Mix + Sip


Slan Abhaile,


Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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11 Responses to “Smoky Irish Eggnog”

  1. […] Egg Nog Upgrade Add an Irish twist to this seasonal drink with a dose of the notably “peaty” Connemara Irish Whiskey. — Imen’s Smoky Irish Egg Nog […]

  2. fig + fauna says:

    Thanks for the egg nog recipe! Im going to give it a go this year 😉

  3. gah!
    that sounds heavenly!
    must include this in my friday link roundup

  4. […] •Presently I have homemade eggnog cooling.  Oh, my!  The warm version of it may have made my eyes roll back in my head a little.  I made the ‘kid-friendly’ version from this post. […]

  5. I just might have to whip up a batch of that eggnog. Kudos to Irish Fireside for sharing your post.

  6. Rowaida says:

    I would love to try your eggnog recipe looks delcious. Photos as always Imen beautiful. Have a wonderful weekend
    Best wishes xoxo

  7. Elaine says:

    My ‘kid friendly’ egg nog is cooling as I write this. I was so happy to see this recipe through Kim Taylor’s FB this morning. I haven’t been able to find my own recipe and I knew that I needed to come up with something before #3 arrived home for Christmas. It would have been a huge disappointment for her to not have it. 🙂 I made it with our own goat milk and fresh eggs and nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon that a friend brought me from Indonesia. Oh, my! I tasted it warm and it’s wonderful. I may need to make some ice cream to add to it. 🙂

  8. Shu Han says:

    I love your photos, they’re so evocative I wish I could live in a farmhouse in ireland too. happy xmas x

  9. Tina says:

    I have always wanted to make my own eggnog! Your addition of bitters is really intriguing. I’ll have to give it a go.

  10. Abby says:

    Mmmm. I’m usually one to take the easy, store-bought route, but this eggnog sounds so delicious!

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