History of the Rum and Eggnog

Eggnog, love it or hate it, there’s no denying it’s a holiday tradition. But if you stop to think about it for a second, Eggnog is a really weird drink to be consuming. Just where did it come from, and why is it now such a big part of the holidays?

As a quick refresher, Eggnog is made from four basic ingredients essentially: milk, cream, sugar and egg yolk. Toss in some nutmeg and rum or bourbon and you’ve got the traditional cocktail for the holidays.

While the exact origins of Eggnog is debatable, there are some pretty clear lines we can draw to get to a solid conclusion. First, it seems like Eggnog is an adaptation of medieval Britain’s “posset” which is essentially a hot, milky ale-style drink. Monks took posset and started adding things like eggs and figs to the mix (of course it was Monks, they’re basically responsible for most alcohol). Now because things like eggs, milk and high proof alcohol like sherry were foods of the wealthy, early styles of Eggnog were often used in celebration and for toasts to prosperity and good health (see where the holiday spirit starts coming in?)

Posset pot. See how fancy!

Now when the American colonies started making Eggnog, things like eggs and milk were in abundance, and thanks to the proximity to the Caribbean, rum was particularly cheap. So now you’ve got a recipe that is very easy to mass produce for the public.

Eggnog became so popular, even George Washington himself recorded his own recipe for nog; and it’s booze heavy!

One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations…and don’t fuck up my Eggnog!

Other nearby countries have also taken on Eggnog with spins of their own. Mexico adopted the very eggnog varietal “rompope” which has added orange peel and vanilla, and Puerto Rico enjoys the “coquito,” which adds coconut milk.

Chances are if you hate Eggnog, it’s the standard store bought variety, which in fact has very little egg in it at all due to food safety regulations. I suggest giving it a chance with a homemade recipe, the at least you get a sense of what Eggnog should really taste like.

Traditional Eggnog

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 pint of whole milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 5 oz bourbon or spiced rum
  • 1 1/2 tsp of nutmeg

Method: Separate egg yolks from whites and place into a bowl. Beat the yolks until they are light in colour. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon/rum and nutmeg and stir to combine. Chill and serve.

**Contains raw egg, so you know, consume at your own risk**

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