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The Christmas magic of Eggnog: An American Yolk Tale.

Posted by ABC Fine Wine & Spirits on December 21, 2018

In Spirits, Holiday Entertaining, Holiday

Love it or hate it, the season of eggnog is upon us. Just about anyone who has ever tasted the velvety custard cocktail has an opinion that borders on either fanatical fondness or absolute disgust. To me, it’s a mouthful and the mouthfeel of Christmas in a glass. To others, not so much.

Luckily though, for the naysayers, there are many variations of eggnog in the world. If you’re not a fan of the traditional boozy mix of eggs, milk, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and rum, there may be a recipe out there you might enjoy more. Like George Washington’s version that packed a real presidential punch (keep reading for the recipe). Or this one from Maker’s Mark that you can make at home.

Holiday Eggnog 2018

Chances are, the idea of a cocktail made with a dozen or so raw eggs may not be your fancy. If that is the case, let us ease your mind a bit.  The high-proof alcohol (typically bourbon) used in the recipe kills any harmful bacteria that could have made you sick. When in doubt, store-bought eggnog like Zackariah Harris Eggnog has been pasteurized, so it’s always a safe bet. If you’re making it at home, you have the option of placing your eggs in a 135-degree pot of water for two hours as well. It won't cook the egg but will kill any bacteria that would put a damper on your celebrations.

Maybe you would be more at ease if you knew a bit of background on the festive cocktail? The tradition of enjoying eggnog during the holidays in America can be traced back across centuries and across the pond to our cousins in medieval Britain. Once upon a time, it was a wintry drink for the British aristocracy named “posset.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, posset was “a drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or the like, often sweetened and spiced.” Posset was only popular in the upper classes due to the expensive price of milk, eggs and sherry and because of the high price tag, it was often used in toasts to good health and prosperity.

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Eggnog later became tied to the holidays here in the States during the 1700s, when American colonists began drinking it. They started adding rum to the traditional drink because it wasn't heavily taxed in the way that brandy and wine were, since rum was traded in the Caribbean. But what exactly is a “nog” you ask? The name apparently came from two old-English words – grog, another word for rum, and noggins, a word for the small wooden mugs that the drink was served in. Ultimately, it became fair game to add any spirit- not just rum. In the aforementioned recipe of George Washington’s, his contained a pint of brandy, a half pint of rye whiskey, a half pint of Jamaica rum, and a quarter pint of sherry - Wowza! 

George Washington’s Eggnog Recipe

Mix brandy, rye whiskey, Jamaican rum and sherry together. Separate the yolks from the eggs and add sugar to beaten yolks. Mix well with the liquors. Add milk and cream while slowly beating the mixture. Beat the whites of the eggs until stiff and fold slowly into the mixture. Let set in a cool place for several days.

Note- Washington didn’t record the exact number of eggs though some estimated seven eggs separated.

By the late 1800’s the combined term “eggnog” stuck and we’ve been calling it that ever since.

Today, according to Indiana University, over 135 million pounds of eggnog are consumed by Americans each year and December 24th is National Eggnog Day. So, pick your favorite recipe (or your favorite pre-made bottle) and celebrate the occasion.  Cheers and Happy Holidays. We’ll raise a glass of nog to you. #AlwaysBeCelebrating

Find some ‘nog near you!