Some folks love eggnog, others find it a cloying, creamy mess. The arrival of different holiday nogs in the dairy section of the local grocery store is a sign that Christmas is on its way and you can no longer live in denial. Hanukkah is half over already. Go with it. Buy a quart or two, some booze if you like, and let the holidays begin.
For those unwilling to risk tummy troubles with homemade eggnog, the grocery stores offer a variety of nogs to suit tastes and diets. While low-fat eggnog is a travesty to most, many people are trying to moderate their holiday cheer intake. We tried some vegan options for those who still need some nog without the dairy. I drank seven different store-bought versions, so if you see me waddling around town, blame it on the nog. Or the booze. I had to draw the line somewhere and that line was pumpkin nog. I just couldn't do it.
These are the results of our grocery store eggnog tasting. You may disagree and that's okay. Some people prefer a thick, milky nog, others need some serious spice. In fact, why not have an eggnog tasting of your own? Bring out your vintage bar ware or your grandmother's Spode china Christmas mugs and make it a party. Since your friends and family may have different preferences when it comes to which liquor to add, have a few options available. I like brandy, my uncle prefers rum and my friends love bourbon. I usually purchase little 'airplane' bottles of different brands at the liquor store and put them out for my guests. There's just something festive about the miniature bottles. Plus, they are already pre-portioned, so it prevents the heavy-handed pours of some of your party peeps.
Promised Land Old-Fashioned Eggnog: Anyone who loves milk loves Promised Land products. Its Midnight Chocolate milk made a convert out of me, even though I don't like chocolate milk. The creamy, yellow milk from Jersey cows is preferred by connoisseurs like my friend, Big-Haired Kim. That creaminess comes forth in its eggnog, slightly coating the tongue and giving a nice hint of nutmeg. This one is good on its own or spiked with liquor. It does have egg yolks in it, but the fat content isn't out of this world. Just remember: A serving is 1/2 cup when it comes to eggnog.
H-E-B Eggnog: This one surprised me. Personally, I think the Kroger brand egg nog is doable, but not great. The H-E-B store brand, as one taster said, "tastes like a cookie". Unfortunately, that flavor may be due to the high fructose corn syrup. However, the first three ingredients are milk, cream and skim milk, so it delivers on the creaminess. Points off for the artificial flavors.
365 Everyday Value Traditional Egg Nog: The smell of this Whole Foods brand threw me off. One sip and I knew why. Of all the nogs I tasted, this was the only one with ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. This one is probably closer to what the American colonists would have drunk. without the guar gum. The ginger really comes through, so some people may be turned off by that, others turned on. You nog your way.
Horizon Organic Low Fat Egg Nog: I actually would put the taste of this a bit higher, but it lacked creaminess. With three grams of fat versus the nine or ten grams in the other ones, it's definitely less strain on the belt buckle. It also did not have guar gum like most manufactured egg nogs. It instead uses locust bean gum and gellan gum. Most of these gums are added as thickeners. The flavor of the nutmeg gives this low-fat version some zip.
MALK Pecan Malk Nog: I wanted to like this one because it is made locally by August Vega and her brother and cousin. Pecans are one of my most favorite things in the world and the taste of pecans is very strong in this beverage, but it is watery and bitter. It reminded me of coffee. In fact, I zapped it in the microwave and liked it better that way. The label says that the product is never heated, so I probably killed off some nutrition and good microbes by doing so. Many people drink nut-based milks due to allergies and other food issues and this is a healthy milk alternative. It is made with organic sprouted pecans, organic spices and smells delicious. This is not my kind of nog, but it's an option for vegans and people who are lactose-intolerant.