Eggnog usually starts showing up on grocery shelves around Thanksgiving and then disappears right after the New Year. For many, it’s a special treat to enjoy at Christmas; for others, it’s nothing they want to even try. It’s a love/hate kind of situation. So, what’s the deal with eggnog? It’s roots go way back in history . . .
Historians believe that eggnog was most likely introduced by the British; they were known to serve a ‘posset’ that consisted of hot milk curdled with some type of alcohol and added spices. While the British may have hit one out of the park with their allegiance to tea, that posset definition is not particularly appetizing. By the 13thcentury, monks had modified the recipe to include eggs and figs. In those days, the drink was used as a toast in celebrations and good times.
The association of eggnog to holidays was likely thanks to the colonists in the New World. They had plenty of cows for milk, chickens for eggs, and rum, which was fairly cheap and readily available.
How did this drink come to be called eggnog? The word first began to be used around 1775 according to historians. Grog was the term used for rum; noggin’ was a wooden cup – egg-n-grog which evolved to eggnog. There you have it! Mystery solved!
The version of eggnog most consumers drink is a far cry from the original recipes – it’s certainly a lot tamer than the recipe credited to George Washington.
1 quart of cream
1 quart of milk
12 tablespoons of sugar
1 dozen eggs (this is an estimate, evidently the number of eggs was not clearly stated)
1 pint brandy
½ pint rye whiskey
½ pint Jamaican rum
¼ pint sherry
Mix liquors first
Separate the yolks and whites of the eggs
Add the sugar to the beaten yolks
Add milk and cream and beat slowly
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture
Let set in a cool place for several days. Taste frequently.
(That last instruction makes one wonder how much was actually available to serve after such dedicated taste testing.)
Eggnog in Hollywood
Eggnog figures as a minor mention in several holiday movies. Remember the scene in Christmas Vacationwhen Clark serves Cousin Eddie eggnog in those reindeer-shaped mugs? Or, in While You Were Sleeping, when Lucy is discouraged from trying the eggnog, but does anyway and wishes she hadn’t?
What Else Can You Make with Eggnog?
According to thekitchn.com, any recipe that calls for milk can be modified with eggnog in lieu of milk for a holiday twist on the norm. For example, use eggnog when making French toast or pancakes, sprinkle on nutmeg or cinnamon and have a special breakfast.
Do you put cream in your coffee? Try eggnog instead for a different taste treat if you dare. (A coffee purist would never, ever put eggnog in a cup of coffee!)
Let’s not forget the pumpkin spice season that we just endured — or celebrated — as the case may be. Is eggnog the next craze? Are we destined to see eggnog flavored foods of all sorts? Will we be giving eggnog treats to our pets? Who knows???