Eggnog is a treat that many people cannot imagine going through a holiday season without. Many anxiously await its arrival on store shelves, sometimes as early as Halloween, because it signals the beginning of Christmas time. This alcoholic beverage has some obscure beginnings. There is some disagreement over how it came to be and why it is called “eggnog”. What we, as Americans, know as eggnog is a descendant of what were once milk and wine punches in Europe. In colonial America milk was more readily available than it was in Europe at that time, which generally made their milk and wine punches something for the upper class only. However, the expensive and over taxed brandy or wine from Europe was cost prohibitive to the colonists; they began using rum. Rum was abundant and cheap, and commonly called “grog”. Many historians argue that the name “Egg Grog” soon became “Eggnog.” Though “nog” is also an old English dialect word used to describe strong ale. A “noggin” was a small, carved, wooden, mug and likely what eggnog would have been served in. Not a large jump to see how an egg drink served in a noggin could become eggnog! No one is really sure how the name came about.
What we do know is that up until around the 19th century it was typically a drink of the upper classes in Europe and fairly common at social gatherings in America. Traditionally in Baltimore on New Year’s Day young gentlemen would go and visit all of their friends. Eggnog would be offered at all the homes and naturally many of these young men would be very drunk after a few stops. This made it very difficult to finish the visits to everyone!
Few people stop to give any thought to the traditions we have and why we have them. History holds so many keys to who we are and where we are going. I am not a big fan of eggnog myself, but many are. I find it interesting that in nearly every country there is a recipe similar to that frothy little drink, we call eggnog, offered up at social gatherings particularly in the winter time. Everyone has their own recipe and their own preference as to what liquor goes into it. Here in the south it is usually bourbon. In Germany they have a version called “Biersuppe” which I think literally translated means beer soup…. Correct me if I am wrong. You guessed it though, they make their version with beer! How great is it that we are all connected? Merry Christmas y’all! Please enjoy this recipe for eggnog passed to me from a friend who asked I not mention her name. As always, feel free to adapt your tastes and make it your own. Let me know how it turns out!
6 eggs, separated
½ to ¾ cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
Dash of salt
3 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 cups Bourbon (depending on how strong you want it, you could also use Brandy or Rum)
1 ½ cups Milk
Nutmeg for garnish
Beat egg yolks, ¼ cup sugar, salt, and vanilla together until very thick and light yellow. (could add 1-2 teaspoons of Nutmeg here too if you like) Slowly beat in bourbon and milk. Cover and chill 6-8 hours or overnight is best. Right before serving beat egg whites to soft peaks, slowly add remaining sugar until creamy; slowly pour the egg white mix into the chilled bourbon mix, folding the egg whites very gently. Serve with a bit of grated nutmeg over the top. ENJOY!