Sitting around a fire during the holidays with a cookie in one hand and a wonderful spiked beverage in the other with a wholly Christmas sweater covering up that holiday fifteen weight gain, life doesn’t get much better. But have you ever wondered what that spiked beverage is, it’s not hot cider and certainly not hot chocolate, but something so much better; eggnog. While I’m aware there are plenty of eggnog haters in our world, if you can’t appreciate the beloved holiday drink for its fun flavors perhaps its bizarre backstory will entice you.
The history of eggnog dates all the way back to the mid-13th century, it is said that medieval monks in England would drink a warm beverage consisting of ale, fig, and, of course, eggs. it is believed that over time different alcohols and wines were added to the original recipe and this eventually became eggnog. The drink’s popularity eventually reached the common public; by the 17th century, it had become a drink associated with politicians and aristocrats. Sherry had become the main ingredient in eggnog and was typically used to toast to one’s good health and fortune. Due to the scarcity of eggs, milk, and sherry during this time it was considered a drink for the elite and wealthy.
The typical ingredients of eggnog began to change as it became more popular in the American colonies the drink became what it is today as rum was put in place of the expensive wines and brandy from England. This replacement of expensive alcohol for cheaper rum allowed eggnog to become a drink not just for the rich and aristocrats but for everyone. As the United States evolved so did eggnog, by the 1700s it had become a common beverage for the holiday season, however, its ingredients varied in each region. Southern states typically opted for whiskey in their eggnog rather than rum, creating a more cinnamon flavor that has since become so popular.
While the eggnog we know and love is typically served cold, the very early version of eggnog was known to be a delightful warm drink however, I imagine somewhere along the way we naturally grew to despise, warm, raw eggs. But of course, on a long ice skating or sledding day, a warm cup of eggnog sounds like a perfect end to a winter day. If you want to buy ready-made eggnog it will typically be served cold and it is sold with alcohol and without alcohol in most stores. However, making your own eggnog is easy! The main ingredients are eggs, brandy, (keep it economical no need for the expensive stuff), sugar, heavy cream, and a variety of spices including cinnamon, and nutmeg. The extreme sweetness of eggnog tends to deter people from adding the right amounts of sugar and cream, but truthfully eggnog wouldn’t be the same without all that sugar! So indulge yourself in a little bit of eggnog and celebrate the holidays with a cold, or warm, a cup of eggnog around a fireplace or two.