If you’ve never understood the appeal of eggnog, perhaps you’ve only experienced the store-bought stuff. Homemade versions—made with separated eggs, milk, and cream—bear little resemblance to what’s found in the cartons at the supermarket, Chowhounds say. Often spiked with plenty of booze, they can be adults-only beverages.

Heidi cooks and bakes tried Alton Brown’s recipe, and says, “I couldn’t believe how much better it was than ANY store-bought version I’ve ever had in the past.” jarona also prefers the DIY version of the drink and feels that “Christmas isn’t Christmas unless I am serving a nice big punch bowl” of Martha Stewart’s eggnog. It includes bourbon, rum, and Cognac, and jarona raves that it is “quite possibly the best eggnog in the universe!”

Many recipes call for raw eggs. If you’re uncomfortable serving uncooked eggs, you can heat your eggnog base to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, says freia, who adds that doing so will give the nog a longer shelf life. This article explains how to do it.

If you want to get ahead of the game for the 2012 holiday season, CHOW’s Best Eggnog can be aged up to a year.

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