Eggnog has a starring role in holiday drinks this time of the year — its creamy sweetness, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg reminding us, with each sip, of sugar and spice and everything nice.
In Whatcom County, we’re lucky to have dairies that make their own eggnog.
For those who prefer this wintry treat as an adult beverage, here are a few places in Bellingham to enjoy a taste of the holidays while making merry with friends and family.
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What to expect: This bar has transformed itself into memories of Christmases past — with fake trees, big red bows, tinsel and the paper chains we made as children. Yeah, it’s kitschy, but oddly comforting and cool.
The decor also reminds us of a slightly off-kilter office Christmas party.
Whatever the case, expect a loud and festive atmosphere.
Drink: Jingle Balls Nog, $10. Swim Club makes its own eggnog for this cocktail, which is served in a small mug.
What’s in it: Cognac, Pedro Ximenez sherry, brown butter, cinnamon, cherry, vanilla, almond milk, cream, sugar, egg and nutmeg.
The drink’s temperature was just this side of cold. The cocktail was fragrant with the aroma of nutmeg. Its flavors were balanced — not too sweet, not too creamy, not too boozy, each sip punctuated with nutmeg’s delicate spicy earthiness.
Making Santa’s nice list: Jingle Balls Nog is one of a number of holiday-themed drinks that make up a Christmas pop-up bar at Swim Club. Called Miracle, it runs through Dec. 31.
If you want to take home your holiday cheer, or at least the cup or glass it came in, you can buy them on site and help raise money for Action Against Hunger, which will receive 10 percent of glassware sales.
What to expect: The atmosphere is intimate and comfortable with an easy style. Go here if you want to be able to hear what your friends and family are saying to you.
Drinks: Galloway’s Nog, BelleWood Apple Eggnog and Reindeer’s Rum. They are $11 each, or $8 when featured as a special for the day.
What’s in them: Crater Lake rye whiskey, Saliza Italian amaretto, Twin Brook Creamery Eggnog and cinnamon dust are in the Galloway’s Nog.
BelleWood Acre’s Eau de Vie apple brandy, house-made apple cider syrup, Twin Brook Creamery Eggnog, cinnamon dust are in BelleWood Apple Eggnog.
Novo Fogo barrel-aged cachaca Brazilian rum, Giffard Orgeat, Twin Brook Creamery Eggnog and cinnamon dust are in Reindeer’s Rum.
When we hit the bar last Saturday, it was to taste the Galloway’s Nog.
Served in a clear glass, the cocktail was cold, creamy and sweet without being cloying — tempering the rye whiskey’s assertiveness. There was a dusting of spices on top, with the aroma of nutmeg leading the way.
As for taste preferences, one of our party preferred Galloway’s Nog and the other liked Swim Club’s Jingle Balls Nog better.
Drink: Temple Bar will start offering its eggnog cocktail creation Thursday, Dec. 6, but we were intrigued, especially after hearing bartender Emma Strutton describe it in an email exchange with The Bellingham Herald.
Once it’s out, the drink will be available through the weekend and into the following week at a cost of $12.
What is it: We’ll let Strutton tell you.
“I was looking for inspiration for a special holiday drink. Perusing our literature in the bar, I came across a recipe for rompope by Maria Del Mar Sacasa in ‘Winter Cocktails.’ It is based on a traditional Central/South American cocktail.
“The recipe calls for aguardiente, a clear spirit I had not heard of before. I love learning about spirits that are less common and trying to use them for the bar, so I was hooked from there.”
What’s in it: “I will mostly follow the ingredients in the recipe Del Mar Sacasa published, with a few key differences,” Strutton said.
Ingredients will be whole milk, egg yolks, white sugar, cinnamon, Madagascar vanilla beans (instead of vanilla extract), Giffard orgeat (instead of blanched almonds), lemon zest (instead of peels) and chili de arbol for a tiny bit of kick.
All nog, no booze
“Liquor-free eggnog has long been served to convalescents and growing children as a tonic,” Sharon Tyler Herbst writes in the “Food Lover’s Companion.”
Even if you don’t fit in either of those categories, you can’t go wrong with eggnog made by Whatcom County dairies Twin Brook Creamery, Grace Harbor Farms and Fresh Breeze Organic.
They’re all creamy and delicious, and available in grocery stores here.
Of the three, Twin Brook’s has the thickest consistency.
The one made by Fresh Breeze is low-fat, although that doesn’t mean it’s low in calories. This is the one for you if you’re a fan of nutmeg.
Grace Harbor Farms’ eggnog also has spices but what makes it stand out is its vanilla flavor.
So reach for these concoctions and add them to our other favorite beverage— coffee.