Besides being a temperamental jazz genius and an expert in toilet-training cats, Charles Mingus was famous for his eggnog. We have often in past years marveled at his ostensible recipe (transcribed in a phone call with his friend and biographer Janet Coleman), but this year we decided to actually take a crack at it.
The imprecisions of Mingus' directions, including disclaimers like "it depends on how drunk I get while I'm tasting it," present some challenges to any foolhardy enough to follow his lead. We can, however, report that our effort was a success on the most obvious terms: Within an hour or so of presenting our brave guests with a large punch bowl of the high-octane concoction, we were down to the dregs.
We cannot reliably report on the exact quantities of much in our mix, though we did faithfully match each egg with one ounce each of brandy and 151-proof rum. Beyond that, we used milk, whipped heavy cream and sugar in doses sufficient to counter the harshness of the liquor and produce a pleasingly smooth texture. (Folding in whipped egg whites gave the punch a surprising lightness, contributing for better or worse to its easy drinkability.)
It's probably no coincidence that a band leader who thrived on collective invention left a lot to the inspiration of the moment. As his widow, Sue, said of his nog recipe, "There's plenty of room for improvising!"
Happiest of holidays from all of us at Libacious! See you in the new year.