11 Best Spirits To Spike Store-Bought Eggnog

Christmas time calls for gingerbread cookies, a showstopping smoked ham, and a perfectly crafted signature cocktail. And no boozy beverage tastes better during the holiday season than a glass of eggnog. While you can add flavor to eggnog without booze, like citrus, spices, vanilla, and maple syrup, mixing in a spirit to your holiday beverage can not only bring depth and complexity, but it's also a really fun way to get into the festive spirit.

Sure, you can make your own easy homemade eggnog by tempering eggs in a mixture of sugar, heavy cream, and spices, but there are so many store-bought eggnog brands on the market that are really top-quality. Simply choose a well-made eggnog carton and mix up drinks at about a five-to-one ratio of eggnog to spirit. And while you can add any liquor you want to your eggnog, some spirits lend better to the flavors of eggnog and can enhance your finished product.

I compiled this list based on my own experience as a former editor of a wine, beer, and spirits magazine and my own personal experience enjoying many of these combinations. Additionally, I researched eggnog recipes to determine the best spirits to spike eggnog.


This distilled wine is one of the most common additions to eggnog and brings some deep winter baking spice with floral flavors and sweetness. Brandy is typically 40% to 50% alcohol-by-volume and can be sold under different names depending on where and how it's produced, like American brandy, Italian grappa, or South American pisco. After it's distilled, brandy is often aged to help mellow the bitterness and impart oak flavors.

The sweet fruity flavor of the distilled wine brings extra acid to your eggnog glass, helping to cut the richness of the creamy drink. Additionally, the oak and vanilla flavors pair nicely with the other festive undertones and ingredients in the holiday beverage.

No matter what type of brandy you add to your mixture, be sure not to pour your most expensive bottle here. Many options, like X.O. Cognac, can be luxurious, so save your pricy bottles for sipping neat and choose a cheaper option when making a mixed drink.


Now that we mention it, Cognac is a stellar choice when making your eggnog cocktail if you choose a cost-conscience bottle. Though you can use any type of brandy in eggnog, one of the most common types of brandy is Cognac, and it comes exclusively from Cognac, France. To be clear: all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac.

The majority of Cognac is made from the grape varietals Trebbiano, Folle Blanche, or Colombard grapes. This type of brandy is distilled in large copper pots and oak barrels, giving a particularly spicy and strong flavor that pairs beautifully with eggnog. This process leaves Cognac with fruity wine-like flavors, like citrus, and the vanilla and oak flavors we love from other aged spirits, like whiskey.

When choosing a Cognac for your eggnog cocktail, choose one that is labeled V.S. This means it has a two-year aging minimum and tends to be less intense in flavor and less of a load on your wallet compared to those labeled V.S.O.P and X.O.


Spelled whiskey when produced in the U.S. and Ireland or whisky when made in Scotland, Canada, India, or Japan, whiskey is known for its smooth texture and intense flavors of smoke, earthiness, honey, oak, and caramel. It's distilled from grains, like barley, wheat, corn, and rye, and is traditionally aged in wooden casks for a designated period to mellow the alcohol and impart flavors. Generally, whiskey has a warming effect with spicy, sweet, and wintery undertones — perfect for a holiday cocktail.

You can choose from many different types of whiskey when making spiked eggnog, but we'll get to that shortly. Whiskey tends to have a very smooth and silky texture, which blends well into a cocktail. Additionally, the flavor profile of many whiskey varieties matches well with eggnog and helps to amplify some of the nutmeg and vanilla-like flavors.

Though flavored whiskey is also available on the market, we wouldn't recommend it for eggnog. Spices like added cinnamon or infusions like peanut butter would simply overwhelm the already existing intense flavors of the holiday drink.


One type of American whiskey is bourbon and it is most associated with Kentucky, but it doesn't necessarily need to be produced in the state. In fact, many Tennessee whiskey bottles technically meet the criteria to be considered bourbon, too. According to the American Bourbon Association, the only restriction on bourbon is in the mash itself — the watery starch used for fermentation. The mixture must contain 51% corn and no colorings or additives are allowed.

Bourbon must be aged for at least two years in new, charred oak and reach at least 40% alcohol by volume. Bourbon is known for being slightly sweeter than other whiskey options (though, not sweet necessarily) and lacking the intense bite of some other whiskey styles.

Depending on the specific variation, bourbon's tasting notes vary greatly. The spirit tends to create a more complex cocktail by adding notes of oak, caramel, honey, vanilla, and smoke. When mixed with eggnog, bourbon can help mellow the spiciness, bring subtle sweetness, and amp up vanilla flavors.


Scotch is another type of whisky (spelled slightly differently) and differs from American whiskey, like bourbon. This brown liquor can help balance sweetness, bring warming baking spice flavors, and add some nuance to the glass, like smoke, caramel, or toasted spice. This option makes for a slightly savory and deeply flavored eggnog mixer.

Scotch can only be produced in Scotland and uses barley as the main grain in production, but sometimes wheat and rye can be used, as well. Scotch must also be aged for at least three years, though some bottles age for much longer.

There are many different types of Scotch whisky, but two of the most popular options are single malt and blended. A single malt Scotch must be made at a single distillery with only malted barley. It is then distilled in a single batch using copper pot stills. In comparison, a blended Scotch is exactly what it sounds like — whisky from multiple distilleries and/or grains combined to make one. Both are great options when making eggnog.

Dark rum

When you think rum, you may think of paper cocktail umbrellas, beachside drinks, and fruity flavors. But don't be fooled — there are so many types of rum and many are great to mix with wintery eggnog. In fact, a Tasting Table survey found that 42% of readers say rum is the best alcohol to add to eggnog.

All rum is made from sugarcane and has flavors of caramel and earthiness, but they vary slightly based on the variety. Dark rum has a deep brown appearance and is a particularly great addition to warmer beverages. While some varieties of dark rum use added molasses and caramel coloring to help bring out the visual of dark liquor, many dark rums are aged in charred oak casks. This helps to add a deep, smoky, and toasty flavor that can pair beautifully with a wintery drink, adding notes of brown sugar, toffee, and vanilla. Be sure to check the bottle to choose a well-aged dark rum for the best flavor.

Spiced rum

If you love a really spicy drink, a spiced rum may be your best pick when it comes to picking an eggnog mixer. To make spiced rum, any plain rum is infused with herbs and spices to create a unique flavor and build complexity in the spirit. These flavors are often citrus, vanilla, dried fruits, and baking spices like you'd find in a pumpkin pie, like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. Molasses is also often added for color and then the rum is aged in oak.

This combination is bold enough to stand up to heavy eggnog while blending seamlessly into the drink. It's almost reminiscent of Puerto Rican coquito, an eggnog-style drink consumed around Christmas made with rum, spices, and condensed or evaporated milk. If using spiced rum in your eggnog, choose a box of store-bought eggnog that is a little lighter in spice flavor. This will ensure you're getting all the flavor from your spiced rum, but it isn't too overpowering.


Tequila is quickly becoming one of the most popular spirits, just slightly lagging behind vodka — and there's very little it doesn't mix well with. While you may want to gravitate toward a lighter blanco tequila for a margarita or summery beverage, there are multiple types of tequila and some lend better to warmer weather drinks.

All tequila is made from blue agave and manufactured in the Denomination of Origin Tequila within the five states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Michoacán, Guanajuato, and Tamaulipas, according to the Tequila Regulatory Council. The agave is fermented, distilled, and sometimes aged. In the case of eggnog, a more complex, aged tequila works best. This style brings richness and can stand up to the bold flavors of eggnog compared to much milder blanco tequila. A reposado or añejo tequila has a deep brandy-like quality, without the sweetness, and has flavors like fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, and caramel that pair nicely with eggnog.

Coffee liqueur

Who says eggnog can't be for breakfast? Similar to the flavors of a white Russian, which blends heavy cream with vodka and coffee liqueur, a coffee liqueur-infused eggnog can be a surprising twist on the holiday delight for any time of day. This liqueur is typically made from coffee beans and an alcohol base, like rum, vodka, or brandy. Sweetener is also often added to the mixture, leaving it sweet and syrupy with boozy, coffee flavors.

When mixed with eggnog, coffee liqueur can add flavors of coffee (of course) and notes of caramel, toffee, and cocoa. While you can easily make homemade coffee liqueur, common brands include Kahlua and Mr Black, but other coffee liqueurs are available on the market. If you're looking for something a little more boozy or to help cut the sweetness, add some tequila or vodka to your coffee liqueur and eggnog mixture, too.


This neutral grain spirit tends to be a blank canvas for flavor and is used in a myriad of cocktails like martinis, Moscow mules, espresso martinis, and cosmopolitans. Vodka is a distilled liquor made from grains, most commonly potatoes. The overall flavors depend on the production style, type of water used, and any additional ingredients added. But, generally, the flavor of vodka is fresh and clean with a hint of earthiness and sweetness.

Vodka is a perfect choice for someone who doesn't love the flavors of spirits but wants a little buzz added to their eggnog. This spirit truly lets the natural flavors of eggnog shine, without adding too much flavor to the finished drink and cutting some of the sweetness, too. If you are looking for a little more, flavored vodka bottles, like vanilla vodka, can add a little something fun and festive without going totally over the top.


Sherry is a fortified wine that hails from southern Spain's Jerez de la Frontera. There are many different styles and varieties of Sherry, but it's most often made from dry white wine that has alcohol added in at the end of the fermentation process and is then aged. Sherry brings elegant flavor to your holiday drink and is also a lower alcohol option at 15% to 20% alcohol by volume compared to big booze spirits.

A medium-style Sherry, like Amontadito, is a great option for eggnog. It's dry enough to not sugar-coat the sweet drink but has a nice nutty, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with the other holiday flavors, like nutmeg. If you love the flavors of Sherry but want something a little more alcohol-forward, try a combination of tequila and Sherry. The recently closed Clyde Common restaurant in Portland, Oregon was once famously known for its eggnog recipe with the duo. The recipe was created and shared by American bartender and author Jeffery Morgenthaler and has become an iconic holiday beverage.


These combinations were chosen based on my personal experience enjoying eggnog over the years, and my knowledge as a former editor of a major wine, beer, and spirits magazine. Some of the suggestions were also chosen based on internet research and common recipes for spiked eggnog.