Brand collaborations are one of my favorite grocery store curiosities. Whether it’s something ill-advised like candy-themed hand sanitizer, something highly unnecessary like Twinkies protein powder, or something with only the most tenuous connection to food, like Sour Patch Kids nail polish, it’s fun to consider the email chains that went back and forth between brand reps to bring these products into the world for us to gawk at in the supermarket. And in a world where any two products might get mashed together at any moment like particles inside the Large Hadron Collider, it’s nice when those collisions produce something that just feels right—not bizarre, not purely gimmicky, just a totally fine, logically sound product. Fireball Cinnamon Holiday Nog is exactly that.
Let’s get this out of the way: it’s “Holiday Nog” because it doesn’t actually have any egg in it. (Classic egg nog recipes will include egg whites or yolks, or both, and many leading grocery store egg nog products like Dean’s, Prairie Farms, and Trader Joe’s Egg Nog similarly contain egg yolk solids.) Its ingredients list does, however, contain an impressive amount of synonyms for sugar: liquid sugar (sugar, water); invert cane sugar; and sugar. All of those ingredients are on prominent display in every sip. Serving this on the rocks, as the carton suggests, is a very good idea, if only to cut through the thickness aided not at all by eggs and very much by corn syrup. That’s not really a mark against the product, though; I drank it on the equinox, an 80-degree day. Scooch a little closer to winter temperatures and holiday revelry and suddenly all that sugar feels not only more welcome, but deserved.
As you might expect, the cinnamon flavor of Fireball Nog is not the warm, cozy, cinnamon-stick-garnish variety present in pies and pumpkin spice lattes. It’s the sharper cinnamon taste of Big Red chewing gum and, of course, Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. It now occurs to me that there may be some readers who are unfamiliar with Fireball’s simultaneous allure and cruelty. Some stats: Fireball is 33% alcohol by volume, it’s one of the top-selling whisky brands in the U.S., it boasts “natural cinnamon flavor,” and as this writer can attest, it goes down easy enough to cause two kinds of headaches (alcohol hangover, sugar hangover) the next day. If you only want one of those headaches, stick to the Nog, which does a pretty decent job of making sure all that sharp, candied cinnamon flavor comes through in every sip. Indeed, when you swap out the pleasant-but-rather-dull warming spices for peppery cinnamon in this cold, thick glass of holiday gloop, the flavor is brightened up just enough that it’s easier to make it through a whole serving without getting bored. The carton suggests adding Fireball to your Nog—of course it does—and the Nog provides the perfect canvas for adding such improvements to.
Unfortunately, it’s still a bit early to enjoy a glass of this stuff each evening by the fire, but my cartons of Fireball Cinnamon Holiday Nog don’t expire until November 24. That takes us deep into Nog season, when this product will make much more sense as a part of my after dinner routine. And at a time when major food and beverage brands are scrambling to introduce us to the next big, quirky, buzzy, Instagrammable thing, having a novelty product in my fridge that actually just makes sense is a comfort. Fireball + Nog? Sure, whatever. Pour me a glass, and I’ll raise it to this sensible team-up.