The arrival of winter means many things, not least of which is an excuse to indulge in the world’s most decadent holiday beverage: eggnog. It's delightfully rich, creamy, and spiced to perfection, making it the best thing to warm you up and put you in a festive mood, especially on a chilly, gloomy night.
Whether you're making eggnog from scratch or opting for a store-bought version, it's always best to use a high-quality rum. To gain intel on the brands the professionals turn to when whipping up a batch of this seasonal beverage, we tapped bartenders, bar directors, and bar managers for their top-shelf recommendations.
"My go-to rum for eggnog, or any festive holiday drink, would have to be Chairman's Reserve Spiced Rum," says Ramsey Musk, the bar director at Sotto. "It's a delicious St. Lucian rum that has a bold body and includes classic baking spices to warm up and add a ton of natural flavor to any eggnog." Though this rum creates a depth of flavor, it won't add a ton of weight to your eggnog.
This rum has notes of vanilla, oak, and spice, making it a wonderful addition to eggnog. The hint of cinnamon and cloves spice up your drink, but it won't overpower it, either.
If you want a thicker or creamier eggnog, add extra heavy cream for body.
For an unconventional rum, try Rhum JM VO. "Unlike other rums, Rhum is distilled from sugarcane in copper pot stills, so it has a lovely funky/grassy twang that I can't get enough of," offers Musk. "The Rhum J.M VO is aged for at least three years in oak and finished in bourbon barrels. This gives it a deep richness and imparts some really lovely caramel and vanilla notes while retaining the punchy funk that Agricole Rhums are known (and loved) for."
This rum has notes of maple syrup, cinnamon, and clove, which make it the perfect complement to eggnog. "The Diplomatico Rum, which we use in our eggnog for the NoMad Holiday Spectacular cocktail bonanza, has a dark and textured undertone to complement all the holiday spice notes that can be found in eggnog," says Dave Purcell, the bar manager of NoMad Los Angeles.
Appleton Estate Rare Blend
Patrick Tang, the bar director at The Rose Venice, suggests Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Blend, a blend of Jamaican rums that are at least 12 years old. The rum has notes of cacao, vanilla, and coffee, which pair well with the richness of eggnog.
Add a bit of tropical flair to your eggnog. This rum from the Dominican Republic has notes of spice and oak in addition to tropical fruits. The result? A warm, smooth finish that's made for creamy eggnog.
You can make eggnog as a mocktail by replacing alcohol with an extra splash of milk.
"My favorite rum for eggnog is Skipper Demerara Rum," confesses Blaine Adams, the bar director at Barrel & Ashes. The dark rum from Guyana is rich, bold, and contains deep notes of vanilla, chocolate, and roasted coffee.
Appleton Estate 12-Year Rum
"If had to choose a rum for eggnog, I'd pick a nicely aged Jamaican rum, such as the Appleton Estate 12-Year," says Chris Chernok, the bar director at Broken Spanish. "I personally love Appleton 12-year because it tends to be on the sweeter side, and I enjoy drinking it neat because of the complexity of the rum itself." This rum has notes of vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon that pair perfectly with a rich eggnog.
In the summertime, use this rum in daiquiris. It creates a refreshing, warm-weather cocktail.
Did you know Bruno Mars founded a rum brand? This five-year rum is a winner to pair with eggnog. "It's infused with local cacao to give it a distinct chocolate flavor," Tobin Shea, the bar director at Redbird. "It lends it a flavor similar to a Wendy's frosty."
The molasses and nutmeg flavor of this rum is not only perfect for eggnog, but would go well with holiday punch, as well. "This beauty was a collaboration of some of the great minds of modern rum," says Shea. "This bottling is meant to mimic the rum that sailors would imbibe while discovering the new world."
This can pack a punch clocking in at 138 proof, so a heavy hand could result in some cloudy memories. Make sure to add in carefully.
"We use Denizen Merchant Reserve 8-Year Rum for our eggnog at République," says Shawn Lickliter, the bar director at République. "It's a blend of aged pot still rum from Jamaica and an aromatic Rhum Grande Arome from Martinique." Because it's got deep, fruity caramel notes, it pairs very well with eggnog and nutmeg.
The Real McCoy
"For delicious spiked eggnog, using a great rum is key. The Real McCoy's 3-Year aged is perfect since their rum has no added sugar or flavors," recommends Nathan Hazard, co-founder of The Coconut Club. For more warm Caribbean spice notes of star anise and nutmeg, opt for the Real McCoy 5 Year Aged.
If you want a lighter, healthier eggnog, substitute coconut milk. It won't compromise the drink's creaminess, and it infuses it with a tropical flair.
"Coruba Dark from Jamaica is great for eggnogs," offers Aaron Paul, beverage director of Alta Group, which includes Alta Adams. "It is sweet and aromatic and full of vanilla and natural spice." This combination helps elevate the eggnog's flavor profile.
Getting bored of the classic? This rum is a great way to switch up your traditional eggnog. "I like using Clarin Sajous, particularly if you want to go in a totally different direction and infuse your eggnog with a Haitian Agricole style rum," says Paul. Because Clarin is funky, grassy, fruity, and dry, it can transform your drink into a hipper, more complex eggnog.
Lamb's Black Sheep
If you enjoy the taste of cinnamon, this is the rum for you. In addition to a pronounced cinnamon flavor, it also boasts sweet vanilla and hints of caramel, balancing out the spice.