Eggnog is the quintessential drink during the holidays. Tree-trimming parties and Christmas dinners just wouldn’t be the same without toasting up a cup of this sweet custardy grog spiked with a shameless dose of booze.
The history of eggnog can be traced all the way back to 14th century Europe. The beverage is believed to have descended from posset, a spiced drink of hot milk curdled and thickened with wine or ale—the perfect remedy for bone chilling holiday winters. Stirring in uncooked eggs eventually became a variation to this potent mix, as well as swapping in pricier spirits such as brandy or sherry. Because of the lack of refrigeration back then, milk was hard to come by for the average person. Eggnog was mostly a drink of the wealthy, the only people who could afford the expensive ingredients to make it.
However, how the word “eggnog” came to be is not entirely clear. “Egg in a small cup”, “egg and ale”, or even a slang word for “egg and grog” are some of the possibilities. "Grog" was a common colonial term for drinks made with rum.
Contrary to Europe, in colonial America many folks had access to the plentiful farms, and dairy products were easy to come by. Eggnog in America became (and still is) a popular seasonal beverage enjoyed by all. Americans also took to pouring in their own sauce of choice, such as rum, whiskey, and bourbon, which were cheap in the states.
The basic recipe for an eggnog cocktail is simple: whisk eggs with sugar, milk or cream, and alcohol, then top with a sprinkle of nutmeg. With refridgeration, eggnog is most popular served chilled these days. Unfortunately though, much of today's eggnog are sold in cartons, artificially flavoured and sludge-textured. And since the modern threat of foodborne illness associated with raw eggs is still quite real, the recipe for eggnog has evolved into a mixture that is often cooked first.
Nothing compares to homemade, so make merry this year with your own batch of ice-cold egg-rich grog. We’ve got you covered on all fronts. A pure and creamy uncooked recipe to satisfy the traditionalist, as well as a cooked food-safe variation. And the kids don’t have to be left out of the party either. Leave the booze to the side and the imbibing up to the adults, for a kid friendly dessert-like drink. Whichever one you pick, this classic is sure to be a hit with all of your holiday guests.
Happy holidays; Merry Christmas!
In her former life in the United States, Yvonne Ruperti was a pastry chef, bakery owner, magazine writer, and cooking show co-host on America’s Test Kitchen TV. Now based in Singapore, she still writes for SeriousEats.com and maintains her own food blog. When not at work, she is busy concocting up recipes for a new cookbook.