The History of Eggnog

Published On December 3, 2012 | By Brian Samuels | Bourbon, Cocktails, History of Mixology

Making eggnog from scratch may appear to be a daunting task.  But this creamy libation makes for the perfect holiday treat and it’s not as hard to prepare as one might think!  So, grab a mug and help yourself to a ladle or two.  You won’t regret it.

Growing up Jewish, I didn’t get to experience many Christmas traditions.  There were the few I witnessed in school, and I got to hear a lot about the festivities from my peers, but I didn’t have the firsthand experience.

The one (and only) time I tasted eggnog was when I was in my twenties.  Someone brought it to a work function…they opened the carton, poured it into a punch bowl, spiked it with a bit of bourbon and gave it a stir.  I took a sip and immediately spit it out.  This is what everyone fussed over? Spiced, boozy milk?

Due to my experience (or, I guess, my lack of experience) with eggnog, I was a bit skeptical about making it for The Boys’ Club. But then I thought maybe, just maybe, it would be better homemade.  And I’m pleased to report, after having made it from scratch, homemade eggnog is a significant improvement from the store-bought variety.

What the heck is eggnog?  Are there huge hunks of scrambled eggs in it?
Oh goodness… no.  Thankfully, you won’t find pieces of egg floating in this scrumptious holiday beverage (well, at least there shouldn’t be). Eggnog is actually a combination of whisked eggs, milk, heavy cream and sugar… and we can’t forget about the booze (typically bourbon, whiskey or rum).  So, as you can expect from something consisting of such ingredients, it is heavenly.

What’s the story behind eggnog?
This one is a bit complicated.  Let’s start with the word itself…eggnog.  It is thought that it stems from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small mug or cup used specifically for alcoholic beverages.  The origins of eggnog are up for debate, but many believe it came from the Medieval Posset, a warm drink of milk curdled with ale or wine and then spiced. At some point during this time, egg was added.  Due to the cost of ingredients, eggnog was consumed only by the wealthy.

Apparently George Washington, one of our Founding Fathers and the first President of the United States, was a huge fan of the beverage, and he developed his own recipe, which looks to be pretty strong.  It is not the one we provide below, but I thought it’d be fun to share his version:

“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, eggs—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.”

The fact is that eggnog doesn’t seem to have Christmas origins.  It is consumed during festive times, and, traditionally, it is prepared during winter months (I can’t quite see drinking this on a blazing summer day). There’s nothing that sounds more wonderful than sipping on eggnog while sitting by a fire on a chilly December night, gathered with family and friends.

Brian Samuels is Managing Editor at The Boys Club and blogger at A Thought For Food.

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About The Author

Brian Samuels
is the man that keeps this club running. He is a co-founder and Editor in Chief of The Boys Club and blogger at A Thought for Food. Brian on twitter @myfoodthoughts.

17 Responses to The History of Eggnog

  1. Pingback: The Boys Club Preview: Eggnog - A Thought For Food

  2. This eggnog looks delicious! Making this drink is a huge tradition for my hubby’s family during the holidays so I think I may need to incorporate this recipe this year. I love the size glasses you served it in – great styling & thanks for sharing.

  3. My husband is obsessed with eggnog–the store-bought kind. Which: meh. So I’m definitely going to have to give your homemade version a try.

  4. I’d love to just dive right into that glass! Looks fabulous!

  5. Brooks says:

    If there was one person to tackle the history of this holiday libation, present it in an honest, concise manner with alluring visuals, that would be you Brian. I’ve never made eggnog, but this post brings forth the inspiration to do just that. Bravo, good man!

  6. Jeanette says:

    I love George Washington’s instructions at the end “Taste frequently” ;). Thanks for sharing the history of eggnog – I’ve never thought to look that up. My boys love eggnog during the holidays – such a decadent treat!

  7. Oh my our founding father liked his egg nog strong didn’t he?! Thanks for the interesting history of this traditional holiday drink.

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  11. Janine says:

    I just made this – very tasty but definitely potent stuff!

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  15. Hello! I wanted to let you know that I have featured your drink recipe in my holiday drink roundup, which you can read here: I hope you have a wonderful day!

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