Forget that carton of supermarket eggnog. As Erik Chapman, Head Distiller and Eggnog Supremo of Sun Liquor says dismissively, 'that's just flavored milk'. Forget too, the overly sweet concoction laced with cheap booze that grandma sits sipping through the festive season.
Instead it's time to become acquainted with the new spiked eggnogs, smooth, rich and decadently sophisticated and crafted with incredible attention to detail from premium liquors and locally-sourced eggs and cream. Except, it seems that tracking this stuff down in Seattle is harder than finding a parking spot downtown during the holidays. Seattle has gone eggnog crazy.
It all started ten years ago, when Erik found himself tending the bar at the Sun Liquor Lounge over the Christmas period and amused himself by making a gallon or two of premium spiked eggnog. For customers who had never tasted a properly made eggnog before, Erik's concoction was a revelation and it soon became a holiday staple. The key to the Sun Liquor eggnog is the aging process. As Erik explains, eggnogs were first developed as a way of preserving eggs and cream in alcohol and sugar, and he started making his eggnog around Thanksgiving for Christmas consumption. The alcohol breaks down the proteins in the eggs and cream, which give his aged eggnogs their exceptional smoothness.
Three years ago Sun Liquor started bottling the stuff and selling it retail on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day and every year it sells out almost instantly. The problem is that making proper eggnog is an incredibly labor-intensive process, and however hard he tries Erik just can't keep up with demand. Every one of the thousands of eggs he uses is cracked by hand, no more than 36 egg yolks are whipped at a time - otherwise he just can't get the right consistency - and that is before the cream and the egg whites are also whipped and the whole is carefully folded together.
This year Erik claims his nog is the best ever. It is spiked with rum, bourbon and, new for this year, apple brandy distilled from the Seattle Cider Co's cider. He started it back in October, has made about 2000 liters and still can't keep it on the shelves. A holiday pop-up shop on December 11th sold out almost instantly, as did the eggnog made available at Total Wines locations on the 12th. Fortunately, having single-handedly created one of Seattle's finest holiday traditions, Erik still has some ready to be bottled. Sun Liquor will yet again be selling its aged egg nog by the glass in the Sun Liquor Lounges and retail through their beautiful new tasting room next to the distillery on East Pike Street, from 5pm on Christmas Eve and 7pm on Christmas Day. Supplies are expected to last a few hours at most.
If you can't wait for Sun Liquor to open its doors, we checked out a few of the noggy cocktail options available.
Rob Roy in Belltown is featuring several egg nogs on its magnificent 'Advent Calendar' of twenty four holiday cocktails. The Morgenthaler, made with añejo tequila and amontillado sherry for a dryer, more sophisticated, less dessert-y egg nog is still available, though supplies are limited, due again to the labor-intensive production process, (while sadly a savory Truffled Tom and Jerry and the @A_Negroni Eggnog with rum, cognac, sherry and herbal bitters are both sold out for the year). Also on the advent calendar is The Secret Catch which can be rustled up to order. Made with aged cachaça and technically a flip not a nog - this smooth, complex libation will fill that eggnog-shaped space in your heart.
Another nog has been spotted at the Pan Pacific Hotel.Their Yule Nog is a modern take on George Washington's own eggnog recipe and features Sun Liquor gin and black rum.
Our final nog comes from Good Bar in Pioneer Square where bartender Josh Batway has come up with the Eggnog Riot, a mix of rye and apricot brandy with a spiced and cooked eggnog. The original Eggnog Riot occurred in 1826 when West Point cadets smuggled whiskey into their barracks for a Christmas party. And rioting is what we will be doing if we don't score our eggnog fix this holiday.
All details of how to grab your bottle of Sun Liquor eggnog are here. Good luck and happy holidays!