Eggnog gets a bad rap, and for very good reason. It’s way too heavy. It’s way too sweet. It conjures images of punch bowls on top of crowded cubicles at bad holiday office parties. That said, eggnog is still at the top of most people’s must-make-for-the-holidays drink lists. So maybe try this recipe for a cocktail called the Bah! Humbug! from bar manager Gregory Westcott at Hinoki & the Bird restaurant in Century City. It’s his version of a classic eggnog, only lighter, with a sugar level nowhere near cavity-inducing, and the name is both cynical and literary. If that’s not reason enough, you need a drink anyway.
To lighten up his version, he uses coconut cream instead of heavy cream. A couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, and a couple of dashes of chocolate chile bitters add notes of baking spices and a warm chocolate flavor. A burnt rosemary sprig acts as a festive garnish, and freshly grated nutmeg over the top should satisfy those wanting that classic eggnog.
“It’s everything Christmas in one glass,” said Westcott.
His version is a supremely balanced cocktail that manages to be both light and creamy, with an unexpected freshness from the rosemary.
“I thought of messed-up Christmas movies,” said Westcott. “In ‘[National Lampoon’s] Christmas Vacation’ the tree gets lit on fire. So rosemary looks like a mini Christmas tree, and you also get a smoky element.”
Westcott makes a vanilla orange rosemary simple syrup for the cocktail, which adds a subtle sweetness. His intent was to mimic the flavor of those foil-wrapped chocolate oranges. (Mission accomplished.)
And the name? “I looked up ‘bah humbug’ and it means a deceiving person. Since the drink doesn’t actually have any cream, I thought it was a natural fit. I wanted to name it ‘drunkle,’ ” said Westcott. “But thought that would be too much.”