Every year it happens. Food boards on the Internet light up right after Hallowe'en with the burning questions: "Where can I get Broguiere's eggnog? Is it available yet? Has anyone seen it?"
Now, I'm as big a fan as Broguiere's, a Montebello dairy that is one the last vestiges of a huge dairy belt that once stretched from Lakewood to Chino Hills, as anyone, but I enjoy rooting for the underdog, so I decided to see whether this fabled nog was really as good as anything else out there.
I dismissed out of hand any kind of "light" eggnog. Light eggnog is the holiday equivalent of a Virgin Mary or a Shirley Temple: meant to provide people with something that looks like a drink but is not actually a drink.
I also dismissed anything that comes out of a carton, mostly because Henry's Marketplace in Fullerton, where I bought these things, only had one kind in a carton and it was at its sell-by date.
This left Straus Organic eggnog and, of course, Broguiere's.
The first thing you have to do is shake the hell out of Straus's. It's definitely got real nutmeg in there, and it all settles to the bottom, which tells you that the liquid inside is not thick enough to keep the nutmeg in suspension. You have to shake it every time you open the bottle; after opening it initially, keep your hand on the lid so it doesn't come off and spray dairy all over your kitchen. The color is a light beige.
As a straight drinking eggnog, this was superior. It was thin enough that it drank easily and had a warm, nutmeggy flavor, but it was missing a little bit of the characteristic tang that I love in a nog. When I added rum to it, however, it became unappealingly watery and washed out; the rum overwhelmed the taste of the eggnog.
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Broguiere's, by contrast, didn't require any manual manipulation to reach serving consistency. It is very brightly yellow, the yellow of really amazing French toast dip (which idea, in fact, works amazingly well). By itself, it is much too thick; it went down like drinking cold custard. Thinned with a little milk, it was much better, though the milk did dilute the rich, eggy flavor. Where Broguiere's shone brightest, though, was with the addition of rum. It seems made for it, with the eggnog taking the sharp, alcoholic edge off the rum and the rum cutting across the overwhelming richness of the eggnog. You do have to stir in the rum; the eggnog is so thick that if you pour rum on top, it will float on top (see the picture to the right, which is much better than my pictures came out).
I'm going to bow to the amalgamated knowledge of the Los Angeles food community and give the award squarely to Broguiere's. Unless you have moral or health objections to it, eggnog is really best enjoyed with a little shot of alcohol in it. If you insist on teetotalling, the Broguiere's can be thinned with milk. The final deciding factor was the price--Straus's was $7.99 a quart (unsurprisingly, since organic milk and eggs are expensive) and Broguiere's was $5.49 a quart.