Eggnog: The Creamy Cocktail of Your Dreams for the Holidays T he seasonal beverage, eggnog, has been a tradition amongst Americans and ...
Eggnog: The Creamy Cocktail of Your Dreams for the Holidays
The seasonal beverage, eggnog, has been a tradition amongst Americans and Canadians for the holidays since at least the late 1700s. Australians are now catching on to this frothy, creamy, egg-based beverage that is as varied as its impressive history.
It’s been the subject of debate amongst culinary historians for ages, though most can agree it was derived from a British drink in medieval times called posset. This drink was made with hot milk, then curdled with some form of wine or ale and flavored with a variety of spices. This was their cold and flu remedy, and somewhere down the line, eggs were added to the mixture. Because alcoholic beverages were served in wooden cups known as noggins, it’s believed that with the addition of eggs and the name of the cup, this is how it came to be called eggnog.
In Britain, it became THE drink for the aristocrats. Milk and eggs were foods only the wealthy could afford. Ditto for sherry, which was often mixed in. It was used to make toasts to good health and prosperity, much like we find ourselves using it in modern times. From Britain, eggnog made its ways to the newfound colonies of America in the 18th century. But the Americans needed a substitute for heavily taxed brandy and wine and opted for rum, a more affordable spirit to add to their eggnog.
Americans often add bourbon or whiskey to it these days though, and that’s largely thanks to the Revolutionary War which made the supply of Caribbean rum scarce. And when bourbon became too costly, the drink found its own special place in the hands of holiday revelers, making it as much a staple to the holidays as turkey and pumpkin pie are to Thanksgiving and ham is to Christmas.
Even the first US President, George Washington, was a gracious host who served a drink similar to eggnog to his visitors which had whiskey, rum, and sherry in it. A good president indeed! While eggnog recipes vary by whoever makes it, it is generally composed of milk, cream, raw eggs, sugar, and a variety of spices, usually vanilla, nutmeg, or even cloves. Spirits are then added which also vary upon region. The Southern US tends to favor bourbon, however you’re likely to find eggnog served with brandy, whiskey, cognac, bourbon, sherry, rum, or even grain alcohol. Some will even have several types of spirits in there, a surefire way to make the holidays merry and bright.
Most people opt to buy eggnog ready-made out of the dairy case during the holiday season. It’s much easier than making it from scratch. Most commercially-produced eggnog is made without alcohol, leaving it up to you to add whichever you wish to it. Hosting a holiday party? Have a make-your-own-eggnog bar with different spirits lined up for your guests. By leaving the alcohol out of it, the kids can enjoy an alcohol-free version. Pregnant women should opt for something else though as even without alcohol added, the raw eggs in the eggnog put it on the naughty list.
When it comes to the holidays, having a cheery cup of eggnog rounded out with a hefty pour of spirits is certainly the way to add plenty of magic to the holiday season.