Eggnog can be served a variety of ways, depending on taste preference and the holiday menu. It may be served without alcohol and infused with flavors and cream for a mix of tastes and thick texture. Holiday spirits are often added for a spicy kick, including rum, brandy, and whiskey, as well as various liqueurs. The beverage's basic ingredients may be used in coffees and shakes, as well as in cakes and desserts. All recipes can be served numerous ways, in punch bowls, carafes, or individual glasses.
Though traditionally a spirit drink, eggnog can be served with no alcohol, and is often sold in supermarkets as such. Recipes vary, with some calling for a large number of eggs and others requiring only yolks. Heavy cream may be added for an particularly thick texture, or a thinner version may be topped with whipped cream. Other toppings include nutmeg, cinnamon, and various seasonal spices.
Eggnog may contain warming spirits if being served to adults. Typical choices include brandy, rum, and whiskey. The beverage may contain one or more liquor, and various liqueurs may also be added for a subtle flavor. Hazelnut, vanilla, or even apricot-infused liqueurs may be used, among others.
While many contemporary eggnog recipes call only for a splash of spirits, the traditional beverage originating in Victorian England calls for significantly more liquor and no additional ingredients. An 1862 recipe involves filling a cocktail shaker 1/4 full with ice, and then adding 1/3 shaker of milk along with 1 tablespoon of sugar and water, one egg, and one wine-glass of rum and another of brandy. The entire cocktail is shaken, strained, and served with grated nutmeg on top.
Various winter beverages incorporate the creamy seasonal favorite. Eggnog may be added to coffee, and commercial versions featuring the flavor are popular during the holidays. Homemade or commercial eggnog may also be mixed with ice cream and other ingredients to make a milkshake.
Occasionally, this drink is served as a featured ingredient in a baked good or dessert. Cheesecake recipes typically call for eggs and cream, so slight adjustments can be made to give them the beverage's signature flavor. Eggnog flavor may also be incorporated into cookies, custards, and baked goods.
Presentation and serving style add to an eggnog recipe. Small punch glasses are most common, though tall pints or wine glasses work for larger servings. It may be presented in a large punchbowl for self-service, or individually portioned. Decorated glass bottles or carafes may also be placed along a dinner or dessert table, set in ice buckets to keep the treat chilled. Baked goods may be presented on tiered display plates, vintage tins, or individual serving dishes.