Day Eleven • 12 Sips of Brooklyn
EGGNOG IS A DRINK THAT MYSTERIOUSLY APPEARS in the weeks leading up to Christmas, then fades in popularity as the winter winds on. Is anyone sitting in the chill of early March and thinking “I could use an eggnog about now”? Like cherry blossoms in the spring, eggnog’s short window of interest must form part of its appeal.
So now it’s mid-December, and if you’re jonesing for the ’nog, head to the Waterfront Ale House on Atlantic Avenue and order Sam’s Serious Eggnog. Sam is Sam Barbieri, owner of the Ale House, and a guy with some serious cred himself as a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He definitely puts his own spin on drink and barbecue at the bar.
The Ale House is a decent watering hole, with free spiced popcorn, a respectable beer range and a list of whiskeys so extensive serious liver damage is threatened to anyone attempting to master it. The eggnog itself is made with three rums, bourbon and brandy and is light and frothy.
Speaking of froth, what better place to find industrial-strength frothing than at the National Review, the conservative publication founded by William F. Buckley. Writer Kevin Williamson favorably mentions Sam’s incomparable eggnog in a recent blog post slamming what Williamson calls the “Eggnog Gestapo.” What upset Williamson so deeply is government regulations on commercial eggnog. Apparently the Food and Drug Administration requires a minimum of 6% milkfat in commercial eggnog, as detailed in an article at Wired.
Equating the FDA with the Gestapo, on one hand, is all so much Internet-standard rhetorical bombast. On the other hand, Williamson does raise a valid issue that must concern more than one Brooklyn artisan: complying with government regulations. Particularly for those in food businesses, how do small-batch producers ensure that they comply with dozens of local, state and federal rules that cover their products while trying to deliver a quality product? Brooklyn Artisan would like to hear of any problems and solutions that small-batch producers have encountered in navigating those rules.
On another note, Southern Comfort Eggnog as analyzed by Wired is made with inordinate amounts of seaweed-based carrageenan, guar gum and that much-maligned whipping boy of food critics: corn syrup. Mr. Williamson, sadly, didn’t spare any of his dudgeon for the multinational corporation pumping out engineered, lowest common denominator products.
You won’t find corn syrup in Sam’s recipe, reproduced below. Sam mandates two rums (he advertises three rums for his ’nog at the Ale House, so I guess that the chef won’t reveal all his secrets.) If you want to use a local rum, check out Due North Rum from Van Brunt Stillhouse of Red Hook.
Sam’s Serious Eggnog
4 whole eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 cups half & half
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
Pinch ground clove
4 oz dark rum
2 oz 151 rum
1 oz brandy
2 oz bourbon
Whisk together eggs, sugar and 1 1/2 cups half & half in a 3-quart stainless steel bowl until sugar is dissolved.
In a separate bowl, combine spices and liquors and mix well.
Heat the egg mixture over a double boiler whisking constantly just until it starts to thicken. Immediately remove from heat and add the cold heavy cream and remaining half & half to cool and stop cooking.
Stir in the liquor and spice mixture.
Waterfront Ale House
155 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights
Van Brunt Stillhouse
6 Bay Street, Red Hook
Photographs by Basia Hellwig. Date stamp typographic design by Joy Makon Design. The font is Industria, by Neville Brody, Linotype, 1989.