The holidays are upon us. And in addition to being bombarded with calls to buy, buy, buy, we will also be encouraged to indulge in a litany of rich food and drink that our primitive digestive systems are ill-equipped to metabolize.

Eggnog comes to mind.

One can quickly concoct this venerable Christmastime libation by spiking a store-bought mix of heavy cream, whipped egg whites and spices. And there are plenty of from-scratch recipes to be found online. But it’s not too common to find a well-made eggnog cocktail (or any holiday cocktail, for that matter) at a bar. That is, unless, you know where to look.

As a teetotalling child, I hated eggnog. Even upon discovering that eggnog was meant to be mixed with alcohol in my adolescence, I remained unconvinced of its merits. However, once I began studying cocktails, I noticed the traits it shared with other revered drinks, like the milk punch (spirit, sugar, milk) and the flip (spirit, sugar, whole egg).

In my 20s, I first attempted to make a true eggnog for a holiday party. I found a few recipes online—none of which were similar in preparation—and decided on the one that sounded the most involved, figuring that if it was complicated, it might be good. I had to separate eggs and whip egg whites to stiff peaks. It took quite a while to prepare, and longer to chill down. The result wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t stellar. The guests at my party were pleased, but not many were jumping at the chance to try it.

They say the best way to find the most efficient solution to a difficult task is to assign said task to a lazy man. When it comes to eggnog, that self-proclaimed loafer is Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common in Portland. When he wanted to make eggnog for his bar, he came up with a wonderfully simple method that is now the industry standard. Using a blender, mix up whole eggs while slowly adding sugar, then alcohol, freshly grated nutmeg, whole milk, and finally, cream. Morgenthaler’s technique is so good that it has been added to The New York Times Cookbook. For the whole recipe you can look there, online, or watch his video on The Small Screen Network on YouTube.


For some, eggnog is as Christmas as cocktails get, but one bar in Downtown San Jose is proving the contrary: for the second year in a row, Paper Plane is participating in Miracle, a Christmas themed cocktail pop-up that started in New York. Greg Boehm, owner of Cocktail Kingdom (an online retailer of fine bar supplies), conceived of Miracle while building out his own New York cocktail bar, Mace, in 2014. This holiday season, 150 bars plan to host their own Miracle pop-up.

At Miracle on 1st Street (the moniker that Paper Plane will don for the duration of the pop-up) customers will walk into a Christmas party turned up to 11. Holiday music is on from open to close, the room is packed with festive decorations and lights, and of course, the menu is fully Christmas themed. Paper Plane is known in San Jose for their innovative cocktail menus, but with Miracle, the 10 cocktails and three shots on the menu are standardized across the Miracle pop-ups. “Most people are inherently excited about the holidays,” says George Lahlouh, co-owner of Paper Plane, “but some people think that it can be so corny and over the top, but that’s kind of it’s selling point.” Every drink is delivered in special Miracle glassware. Some drinks come in branded coupe glasses, but some come in a ceramic Santa mug, or—in a new addition this year—a ceramic Tyrannosaurus Rex wearing a Santa Hat.

Miracle on 1st Street runs now through Dec. 29 at Paper Plane. “You have to be a fan to want to do this,” Lahlouh says of converting his bar into the Miracle pop-up. This year, Miracle is holding a massive nationwide ugly sweater party, too. On Dec. 2, all of the participating pop-ups invite guests to come dressed in the most garish garments they can find.

Tequila Eggnog
12 large eggs
18 oz superfine sugar (not powdered)
12 oz anejo tequila
15 oz Amontillado sherry
36 oz whole milk
24 oz heavy cream
In blender, beat eggs on low speed, until smooth. Slowly add sugar until dissolved. Slowly add sherry, tequila, milk, cream. Refrigerate overnight. Serve in chilled cups dusted with nutmeg.