Fancy some eggnog? How about some posset? A soupcon of syllabub? Or maybe a wee spot of biersuppe?

They're all variations on the eggs-sugar-milk-booze creation that seems to have as many incarnations as jolly old Santa Claus/Kris Kringle/Joulupukki himself.

Take coquito, a Puerto Rican tradition that combines eggs, cream of coconut, rum and spices for ultra-rich seasonal sipping.

Daisy Martinez remembers grating coconut by the hour with her sister for her mother's special version of this drink. These days, there's canned cream of coconut to be had in abundance -- "It's just as good and really time- and labor-friendly," points out Martinez, who hosts "Viva Daisy" on the Cooking Channel and has written several cookbooks, including the recent, "Daisy's Holiday Cooking."

Then again, you could try a "Yard of Flannel," a recipe from colonial times included in Holly Arnold Kinney's cookbook, "Shinin' Times at the Fort," a collection of recipes from the family's landmark restaurant near Denver.

Flannel relies on beer, not liquor, for its punch and, in fact, that's how the drink was initially made, says Kinney, noting that "nog" is an old English word for strong beer (noggin, meanwhile, was a small wooden cup used in taverns).

Kinney's recipe calls for blending hot ale with other ingredients gently (so the eggs don't curdle) resulting in a mixture that is silky, or as "soft as flannel." Coachmen would drive up to a tavern and call for a "yard of flannel," the drink served in a long, skinny glass. Handed up to the coachman as he sat on his tall seat, it was a drink that would refresh and "warm the cockles of his heart," says Kinney.

Over time, bourbon or rum, which were cheap and available, replaced beer. Kinney's Southern-born mother used to make syllabub, a variation that uses wine.

However you like your eggnog, it's likely you've already picked up a carton or two. Dairies across the country have been producing eggnog since early November.

And even with the mass-produced eggnogs, tastes vary from region to region, with dairies on the East Coast looking for spicier blends while those in the Midwest seem bigger on rum flavoring.

Of course, with something as varied as eggnog, the best version may well be your version.

Just ask Martinez how good coquito really is.

"Once you taste coquito," she answers with a laugh, "you'll be like, 'Eggnog who?' "

This is no everyday drink. Made from coconut cream, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, evaporated milk and -- of course -- light rum, this is a seriously celebratory drink. Of course, the rum can be left out for the kiddies.

And if you want a chocolate version -- what Martinez calls a "choquito," simply prepare as directed below, then heat an additional 1/2 cup of heavy cream (but who's counting?) to a simmer. Add 1 1/2 cups of bittersweet chocolate to the cream, whisking until smooth. Whisk 2 cups of the coquito into that, then whisk the whole thing into the full batch of coquito.



2 jumbo eggs or equivalent of pasteurized egg substitute

3 jumbo egg yolks or equivalent of pasteurized egg substitute

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 15-ounce can cream of coconut

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 to 1 cup light rum

Ground cinnamon, to garnish

In a blender, combine the eggs and egg yolks. Blend on high until the eggs are pale yellow and very light. With the motor running, one at a time slowly add the condensed milk, cream of coconut and evaporated milk. Blend for a minute or so, then with the motor still running, slowly add the heavy cream. Blend until just incorporated. Stir in the rum.

If while preparing the coquito your blender becomes too full, simply transfer some of the mixture to a serving pitcher, then continue as directed. Add the remaining coquito to the pitcher and stir well. Chill for 2 to 6 hours. Serve sprinkled with cinnamon. Makes about 8 cups.

Per 1/2 cup serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 299 calories; 134 calories from fat (45 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 109 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 0 g fiber; 79 mg sodium.


Yard of Flannel Eggnog

1 quart good ale

4 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

4 ounces Jamaica dark rum

Grated nutmeg, for garnish

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the ale to nearly boiling.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs with the sugar. Blend well. Add the ginger and rum, then blend again.

When the ale is almost boiling, pour it slowly into the egg mixture with the blender running. Blend until the drink is silky. Serve in large glasses sprinkled with nutmeg. Servings: 4.

Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 266 calories; 41 calories from fat (15 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 215 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 0 g fiber; 88 mg sodium.