Making Spirits Bright

A craft bourbon with a nod to Judge Roy Bean brings local flare to this traditional eggnog recipe.

Traditional Eggnog. Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

No one has made liquor (legally, at least) in Mobile or Baldwin counties since 1907, when Theodore Roosevelt was president and Prohibition was just getting started. But a new small-batch craft bourbon named after an Eastern Shore landmark has just reached store shelves. Owner David Gibson hopes the flavor will bring a little taste of Judge Roy Bean’s notoriously fun atmosphere to those who remember the local dive bar best. “The best bourbons are the ones you have the most fun drinking,” says Gibson in the true spirit of Judge’s.

Gibson’s idea for Judge Roy Bean Spirits took shape about a year and a half ago when he ran into Seth Dettling, CEO and Head Distiller at Big Escambia Spirits, at The Grand Hotel. What started as a brief conversation soon led to collaboration to create the flavor profiles for Judge Roy Bean bourbon. “We just got a bunch of Mason jars, filled them up with bourbon and tried different combinations,” he recalls.

Together, they landed on toasted and charred pecan wood. “[Pecan wood] changes the whisky, and it makes it very unique so that gives it a local South Alabama stamp,” says Dettling. “[Gibson’s] honoring that memory, and this bourbon is a good way to do it.”

Traditional Eggnog

This classic eggnog recipe is great for holiday entertaining and can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. 

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4 cups whole milk
8 eggs (6 full eggs, 2 egg yolks) 
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup Judge Roy Bean Spirits Bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Whipped cream for garnish

1. Bring milk to simmer in a saucepan over high heat. 
2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until well blended. Remove the milk from heat and whisk into the egg mixture until combined. 
3. Return the mix to the saucepan, cooking on medium low heat for 2-5 minutes, stirring frequently (temperature should reach 160-165 degrees).
4. Remove mixture from heat and add bourbon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 
5. Serve with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg garnish. 

Judge Roy Bean Spirits is served at Bill-E’s in Fairhope, and is sold at select ABC stores on both sides of the Bay.

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