National Eggnog Day

By Dianne Ruyack

Eggnog is one of the most popular beverages served around the holidays. It is very appropriate that National Eggnog Day is celebrated on Christmas Eve!

The traditional recipe for eggnog is milk, cream, sugar, beaten eggs, spices, and sometimes alcohol. The type of alcohol added depends on the country where it is made. In Europe, eggnog is made typically with white wine. Americans on the other hand drink it with bourbon or rum, while Peruvians use pomace brandy, and Germans use beer.

There are a few theories to how eggnog actually got its name. One theory is that eggnog was at first called “egg n’ grog” which eventually got shortened to “eggnog.” Another theory is that its name traces back to the old English word for strong ale, “nog.” This theory suggests that the combination of the words “egg” and “nog” refers to any drink that contains both eggs and strong alcohol.

The origins, etymology, and even the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog, or a very similar drink, may have originated in East Anglia, England, though it may also have been developed from posset (a medieval European beverage made with hot milk). The “nog” part of its name may stem from the word “noggin”, a Middle English term used to describe a small, wooden, carved mug used to serve alcohol.

Another name for this British drink was Egg Flip. Yet another story is that the term derived from the name “egg-and-grog”, a common Colonial term used to describe rum. Eventually the term was shortened to “egg’n’grog”, then “eggnog”.

The ingredients for the drink were expensive, so it was popular mainly among the aristocracy. “You have to remember, the average Londoner rarely saw a glass of milk,” says author and historian James Humes (To Humes It May Concern, July 1997). “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.”

The drink crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America. When the supply of rum to the newly-founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey — and eventually bourbon in particular — as a substitute.

Regardless of how eggnog got its name, it has been a favorite holiday beverage for centuries! Buy or make some today to toast the holidays and celebrate National Eggnog Day!

Try some eggnog in your coffee; add ready-to-drink chocolate drink mix for chocolate eggnog or powdered chai tea for a delicious holiday beverage.  Dipping white bread into eggnog and making a special Christmas French toast is another way to enjoy this unique flavor. Just one caution, it not recommended using raw eggs so use either pasteurized egg product or make a custard for the basis.

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