Several years ago, I played in the Duke Ellington Jazz Band, based out of New York City. At that time, I was one of the most formidible bass clarinet players in the area. For the holidays, our conductor invited us over and he brewed up a batch of the most potent and delicious eggnog I’ve ever had. He told us it was a recipe originally created by Jazz legend Charles Mingus. At the end of the night, our conductor shared it with us. Our conductor got it from a friend of a friend who got it from Mingus in the 60’s. I’ve had my copy under lock and key since then.
Charles Mingus gave the recipe and an informal cooking demo to a few friends in his kitchen and this recipe was written essentially verbatim during that holiday party. I’ve held it under lock and key and never told anyone I had this secret recipe from Mingus himself. I was a bit disappointed that when discovered that the recipe was publicly published a few years ago in one of his memoirs so I guess it’s ok to share it with everyone.
- Separate one egg for one person. Each person gets an egg.
- Two cubes of sugars for each egg, each person.
- One shot of rum and one shot of brandy per person.
- Put all the yolks into one big pan, with some milk (whole milk was in the original recipe).
- That’s where the 151 proof rum goes. Put it in gradually or it’ll burn the eggs.
- OK. The whites are separate and the cream is separate.
- In another pot— depending on how many people— put in one shot of each, rum and brandy. (This is after you whip your whites and your cream.)
- Pour it over the top of the milk and yolks.
- One teaspoon of sugar. Some Brandy and rum.
- Mix it all together.
- Fresh nutmeg. And stir it up.
- You don’t need ice cream unless you’ve got people coming and you need to keep it cold. Vanilla ice cream, baby.
Charles Mingus is one of the most original and influential jazz composers of the twentieth century. He created the second-largest volume of jazz work after Duke Ellington and is the first African-American composer to have his work acquired by the Library of Congress. If you’re new to Mingus, Mingus Ah Um is one of my favorites.