The Best Alcohol for Eggnog: Brandy, Bourbon, or Rum?

Here’s how to pick the right bottle for your next batch.

a close angle view of two glasses of amazingly good eggnog. Fresh nutmeg and a grater sit near
Photo: Dotdash Meredith Food Studio

Have you ever wondered which liquor is best to mix with eggnog? You're not alone. It might not be one of the most stressful decisions of the holiday season, but it's still an important one. Here's how to pick the best liquor for your next batch, plus more eggnog tips, tricks, and recipes.

How to Spike Your Eggnog

The three most common boozy eggnog mix-ins are brandy, rum, and bourbon. Is one necessarily better than the others? Absolutely not. It all depends on the drinker's taste. However, there are a few things to consider when making your purchase at the liquor store.

Brandy: Makes the Most Traditional Eggnog

For the most traditional holiday experience, reach for brandy (specifically, Cognac) to spike your 'nog. It's important to note, though, that both brandy and eggnog are quite sweet. Combining them will produce something that someone with a sweet tooth will love, but that others may find cloying. Proceed with caution.

Rum: Blends Seamlessly, Keeping the Eggnog Flavor Intact

Fun fact: Brandy and wine from overseas were heavily taxed in the 18th century, so Americans took to spiking their eggnog with rum. While they did it out of necessity, it seems they were onto something — rum's flavor blends seamlessly into the egg-based concoction, preserving the wholesome holiday flavor. Some recipes call for both brandy and rum to be added to the eggnog.

Bourbon: Eggnog With a Kick

If you're looking for a spiked drink that packs a punch, bourbon's the way to go. Eggnog drinkers from the American South are likely used to the flavorful addition, but people who aren't expecting the strong kick might be a bit taken aback.

close up view of Spiked Eggnog garnished with nutmeg in glasses

Getting the Ratio Right

A solid alcohol-to-eggnog ratio is 1:5 (1 part spirit, 5 parts eggnog). This applies to both store-bought and homemade. eggnog. So if you buy a one-quart container of eggnog, add 6.5 ounces of your chosen liquor(s).

More Eggnog-Spiking Tips

  • Don't use your most expensive bottles. Because you're mixing the liquor into a sweet custardy drink, you may not want to break out the nicest, most nuanced liquors you have. Opt for a good quality bottle — and save your most expensive liquors to sip on their own.
  • Know your audience. We just said that 1:5 is the perfect ratio, but it's important to know the preferences of the people you're serving. Some people can handle more liquor, while others will prefer less. Use your best judgment for serving your guests.
  • Dress up store-bought carton. You can easily make store-bought eggnog look homemade with thoughtful garnishes. A sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg, a cinnamon stick, and/or an orange peel should do the trick.

Eggnog Recipes

We certainly have no issue with store-bought eggnog. In fact, some of it is quite delicious. But, if you really want to go the extra mile this Christmas, we've got you covered. Check out some of our easiest and best eggnog recipes of all time:

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