Recently I brought into the house a big bottle of Laird's AppleJack brandy with the mistaken impression that it would be apple-y. Turns out it's a freakin hard-a** likker, kinda like Calvados but with a tetch of Everclear mixed in. Used to be made by warming, then freezing, hard cider in barrels and collecting the frozen (more alcoholic) condensation on the outside of the barrels. The modern variety is distilled, less death-inducing. It still has that feel of desperation to it, like when American settlers looked to their squirrley little apple trees to make some mindwiping hooch. That's old fashioned.
Now, the holidays seem to be a time when we trot out all the old culinary war horses and give em a slap on the rear. Things like mincemeat pie and fruitcake and great roast beasts would never, ever be found in any sane person's larder the other three-hundred-sixty and some odd days... What's the compulsion to revivify all that weird old-fashioned food? I don't know. I just wouldn't be caught dead not doing it. Which is why I have three pounds of fefferneuse dough in the freezer. Another story.
I am fascinated by all the possets and wassails and groggs and noggs that have, allegedly, since time immemorial, accompanied Yuletide Festivals and Feasting. But I've never tried a one of them. I just had to know what it was all about this year, and I had that gnawing need to put up an offering to the gods of Christmas past. I struck on the idea that I would throw two old traditional drinkies to make one brand spanking new one. So I done made some egg nog, and holy s&*)% is it rich and thick and dilishishhh. Here's my version, made with part cream and part skim milk and loooots of AppleJack brandy. I call it The Happy Apple Egg Nog.