The History of Egg Nog
Egg-flip, Egg-hot, Egg-nog. Drinks composed of warm spiced ale, with sugar, spirit and eggs; or eggs beaten up with wine, sweetened and flavored, etc.
From Buckingham Palace to the White House to New England homes everywhere, toasting the holidays with egg nog is a custom rich in tradition. Historically, egg nog is first mentioned in the early part of the seventeenth century as a beverage used to toast one's health
Other experts would have it that the "nog" of eggnog comes from the word "noggin". A noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish "Sherry" and milk. The English called this concoction "Dry sack posset". It is very easy to see how an egg drink in a noggin could become eggnog.
The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called "egg and grog in a noggin". This was a term that required shortening if ever there was one.
With it's European roots and the availability of the ingredients, eggnog soon became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. It had much to recommend it; it was rich, spicy, and alcoholic.
In the 1820's Pierce Egan, a period author, wrote a book called "Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom". To publicize his work Mr. Egan made up a variation of eggnog he called "Tom and Jerry". It added 1/2 oz of brandy to the basic recipe (fortifying it considerably and adding further to its popularity).
Eggnog, in the 1800s was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, "Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging...It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended."
Of course, Christmas was not the only day upon which eggnog was popular. In Baltimore it was a tradition for young men to call upon all of their friends on New years day. At each of many homes the strapping fellows were offered a cup of eggnog, and so as they went they became more and more inebriated. It was quite a feat to actually finish one's rounds.
Our first President, George Washington, was quite a fan of eggnog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try.
Eggnog is still a popular drink during the holidays, and its social character remains. It is hard to imagine a Christmas without a cup of the "nog" to spice up the atmosphere and lend merriment and joy to the proceedings. When you try out some of the recipes on this site, remember that, like many other of our grand traditions, there is history and life behind that little frothy brew.
More about Egg Nog,
It all began in England, where eggnog was the trademark drink of the upper class. "You have to remember, the average Londoner rarely saw a glass of milk," says author/historian James Humes (July 1997, "To Humes It May Concern"), former speech writer and adviser to four presidents. "There was no refrigeration, and the farms belonged to the big estates. Those who could get milk and eggs to make eggnog mixed it with brandy or Madeira or even sherry." But it became most popular in America, where farms and dairy products were plentiful, as was rum. Rum came to these shores via the Triangular Trade from the Caribbean; thus it was far more affordable than the heavily taxed brandy or other European spirits that it replaced at our forefather's holiday revels."
An English creation, it descended from a hot British drink called posset, which consists of eggs, milk, and ale or wine. The recipe for eggnog (eggs beaten with sugar, milk or cream, and some kind of spirit) has traveled well, adapting to local tastes wherever it has landed. In the American South, bourbon replaced ale (though nog, the British slang for strong ale, stuck). Rich, strong eggnog the richer and stronger, the better is no stranger to holiday celebrations in New Orleans, and at this time of year the drink takes its place alongside syllabubs on the traditional southern table. (Syllabub is a less potent mixture than eggnog but just as rich. Made with milk, sugar and wine, it straddles the line between drink and liquid dessert.)
Eggnog goes by the name coquito in Puerto Rico, where, not surprisingly, rum is the liquor of choice (as it is these days for many eggnog lovers in the U.S.). There the drink has the added appeal of being made with fresh coconut juice or coconut milk. Mexican eggnog, known as rompope, was created in the convent of Santa Clara in the state of Puebla. The basic recipe is augmented with a heavy dose of Mexican cinnamon and rum or grain alcohol, and the resulting drink is sipped as a liqueur. In Peru, holidays are celebrated with a biblia con pisco, an eggnog made with the Peruvian pomace brandy called pisco.
The Germans make a eggnog or rather egg soup with beer (Biersuppe). Here in Iceland, we do have a soup here that resembles eggnog somewhat but there´s no alcohol in it. It is served hot as a dessert. Other than that, we have nothing that resembles eggnog and no eggnog traditions.
Mexican Egg Nog
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Last updated November 6, 2005