When the tuba’s oom pah pah blurts out into the crisp fall air and currywurst lovers dust off their finest lederhosen, it’s difficult not to get excited about the most Germanic of celebrations, Oktoberfest, which spans from the third week of September until the beginning of October each year. For devotees of all things lagers and schnitzel, there’s no finer hour to spiral into a meaty, beer-drenched state of bliss while clapping merrily along to a polka beat.
At the eye of the Oktoberfest storm in Munich and in German-heavy cities across the United States, beer looms large as revelers' sudsy beverage of choice. Sure, there are always a few autumnally-flavored schnapps and some paltry, ho-hum wines for those who are less hops-inclined, but these drinks always feel like a sad afterthought. What are drinkers to do, then, when they’ve wiped the last beer froth from their upper lip, maxed out on sticky-sweet Rieslings and still want to sip something a little boozy?
Eierlikör—a centuries-old, golden-hued egg liqueur—might just be the answer.
... the versatility and weighty richness of eierlikör ... has long held year-round appeal in both Germany and the Netherlands ...
Similar to eggnog or a steamy mug of the British-favorite Tom and Jerry, the versatility and weighty richness of eierlikör—which is made by combining a multitude of egg yolks, spices, sugar and a dark spirit of choice, like brandy or rum—has long held year-round appeal in both Germany and the Netherlands (where it is known as Advocaat). The drink is traditionally so thick and glue-like that it’s almost easier to imagine slapping up wallpaper with the eggy paste than nimbly sipping it. People can—and do—frequently eat it with a spoon.
Its function as a natural beverage of choice for indulgent, cozy boozing, though, is unmatched. In the winter, it’s a holiday favorite served piping hot to fight off winter’s chill. In warmer months, the drink’s egg-heavy constitution ensures that it’s glugged down—cup after cup—at room temperature during Easter. At other times of the year, eierlikör is served in a number of curious drinking vessels, including out of tiny chocolate shot glasses, in a highball mixed with orange Fanta or inside cake cones like half-melted ice cream.
It is, truly, a drink for all seasons.
While eierlikör's origins are a little fuzzy, much of the credit for its cross-border prominence goes to the Verpoorten Company, which has been producing the drink in the town of Heinsberg on the Dutch-German border since 1876. As the story goes, Belgian distiller Eugen Verpoorten dreamed up the liqueur as a way to recapture the flavor and texture of an avocado-based drink Dutch colonists discovered in Brazil two centuries earlier. Since avocadoes were impossible to come by, eggs—which offered a similar density and buttery finish—were an ideal stand-in.
The family-owned company remains the dominating force in the German commercial eierlikör scene, and has worked diligently in recent years to help the liqueur shed a somewhat fusty stereotype by reimagining it as everything from a cocktail mixer to cake ingredient. In a recent interview, current owner William Verpoorten was asked what his response would be to someone who considered the drink "old-fashioned."
... egg liqueur cocktails are gaining traction in both Germany and the Netherlands.
"They’re old-fashioned themselves and out of touch!" Verpoorten joked. "They have no idea."
Today, egg liqueur cocktails are gaining traction in both Germany and the Netherlands. The Verpoorten website is littered with quirky eierlikör-based drink recipes, from creamy espresso cocktails to tiki-inspired concoctions. In the Netherlands, it’s the star ingredient the Snowball—which blends together the egg liqueur with lemonade and lime juice—and the Fluffy Duck, a mixture of eierlikör with orange liqueur, orange juice, gin and soda.
The drink has yet to find footing among toddy-lovers in the United States, but, perhaps, this is the year eierlikör is unearthed by those searching for a novel winter treat.
Below, Louisville, Kentucky-based brandy distillers Copper & Kings have fine-tuned a contemporary version of the egg liqueur for those curious enough to whip up a batch at home, then placed it into two scarf-weather appropriate cocktails:
Régéneration (Egg Liqueur)
8 ounces brandy, such as Copper & Kings
6 ounces spiced brown sugar syrup*
6 eggs, separated
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 ounces evaporated, sweetened, condensed milk
In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks until runny. Slowly add brandy and syrup to the egg yolks. Slowly fold egg whites into the mixture and add the condensed milk. Mix until smooth. Refrigerate for six hours and shake before use. Régéneration will stay good for up to one week in the fridge and is best enjoyed over ice with a garnish of freshly grated nutmeg.
*Brown Sugar Syrup
3 cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups hot water
1 tablespoon clove
1 teaspoon cracked allspice berries
2 crushed cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a pot and stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Steep over low heat for 10 minutes. Finely strain. Will last three weeks in the fridge.
By Sean Thibodeaux of Copper & Kings
1 ounce brandy, such as Copper & Kings
1 ounce Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Cacao
1 ounce Régéneration
Combine all in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
By Chris Wilkins of Copper & Kings
1 ounce brandy, such as Copper & Kings
1 ounce apple brandy, such as Copper & Kings
1 ounce Jamaican rum
3 dashes Angostura
1 whole egg
3/4 ounce milk
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass. Top with freshly grated nutmeg.