When you think of Christmas foods and beverages, what comes to mind? Perhaps a big turkey dinner with cranberry dressing? Maybe sweet peppermint candy canes and tasty Christmas cookies? And how about drinks? Nothing says Christmas quite like egg nog. This popular milk-based drink is a favorite during the holidays. Did you ever wonder how it came to be a Christmas favorite?
Historically, egg nog comes from posset, a hot curdled milk drink that was popular during the Middle Ages and reported to have medicinal purposes. The name is a combination of egg and nog, but there’s some debate about the origins of “nog.” Some believe it derives from noggin, which is ale or a small wooden cup, while others believe it stems from grog, an alcoholic drink made from rum.
It’s highly likely that egg nog originated in Europe, although some believe it originated in the original American colonies who added rum. But however and wherever it originated, egg nog has been a popular concoction for many years. Legend has it that George Washington was an egg nog enthusiast and developed a recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reportedly a very strong drink that was enjoyed only by the courageous or those with little sense.
Eggnog is not strictly a holiday drink, but most people typically enjoy it during the period from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. Originally served warm, egg nog has been served cold and without alcohol since the mid 1960s, both of which are major departures from its historical origins.
Modern eggnog usually consists of eggs, milk and sugar mixed together. Other ingredients include spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, or allspice, and cream is often substituted for some part of the milk, making a much richer drink. These days, it’s also available in a soy-based formula for vegans or those with dairy allergies.
Egg nog has long been the drink of choice to toast the holiday season. So hoist a cup and have a happy holiday season!