Eggnog, the heavy cream, rum, and whiskey-laden cocktail, can bring a dose of comfort and joy to the holidays. Locally, Longmont’s Dry Land Distillery is showing what a craft-made version of the seasonal favorite can taste like. Through the end of the year, it is serving nog in to-go mason jars from its tasting room and is hosting a remote version of its annual eggnog contest, the Nog Off.
Dry Land’s eggnog, and the associated event, are popular for a reason — they offer a fresher version of a misunderstood cocktail.
“A lot of the eggnog you get in the store is laden with artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup,” said Kelly Dressman, the distiller’s brand manager. “Our eggnog not only contains our liquor, but we also try to use wholesome ingredients.”
Dressman said this year’s six contest entries have flavors that defy customer expectations.
“One nog has a cranberry flavor, another showcases espresso, and a more traditional version is nutmeg-forward,” she said.
Contest eggnogs taste different for a reason: They’re created by some of the area’s brightest culinary experts. Competitors include DJ Riemer of 24 Carrot Bistro, Sarah Morgan of Martinis Bistro, Amanda Adair of Table Mountain Farm, and Matt Grimes and Leslie White of Jefe’s Tacos and Tequila. Nels Wroe, Dry Land’s founder, and Dressman round out the slate of entries. Dressman took home the title in last year’s contest.
The 2020 contest is so popular that even though judging spots cost $70 apiece, all 45 are taken. That’s not a surprise. The Nog Off has been steadily growing since it started in 2018, and more than 200 drinkers judged last year’s competition.
“There were people who came from Castle Rock just for it,” Dressman said. “We realized pretty quickly that we needed a lot more nog.”
Dry Land even created its own brand of rum inspired by the contest and love of the drink.
“We made an aged rum so we could make eggnog the way we wanted it for the holidays,” Dressman said.
The distillery is grateful for customer support and local chefs' participation in the eggnog contest.
“We really appreciate all of the enthusiasm from the chefs, especially since it’s not the most convenient thing to do right now. We love working with all the different businesses downtown,” Dressman said.
Jefe’s Grimes reciprocates the good feelings.
“We really love being part of such a cool event. The Nog Off brings friendly competition and a one-of-a-kind tasting together,” he said. “The crew at Dry Land is making some world-class spirits and we’re honored they asked us to participate.”
Judges' picks are due on New Year’s Eve and winners will be announced early in the new year. Meanwhile, Dry Land keeps pouring nog.Curious customers can order the eggnog online, though the distillery asks for two days' advance notice. It’s available in single-serving 6-ounce mason jars, quart mason jars that hold about five servings and half-gallon mason jars that hold 10 servings. Nog buyers will receive one of the six contest entries, and staff can try to identify for them which number eggnog it is in the competition.