‘Tis the season for eggnog

December 17, 2021

Nog Your Average Holiday Drink

Love it or hate it – 'tis the season for eggnog.
How Americans named the simple (yet odd) concoction of milk, eggs, & booze – & why you should be drinking it in a wooden mug.

Toasting History

  • In medieval times, “posset” was made of hot milk & eggs, which only the wealthy could afford. Brandy or sherry kept it from spoiling.
  • By the time it was enjoyed in America in the 18th century, milk & eggs were common. Colonists used rum instead of other heavily-taxed liquors.
  • Cold, nonalcoholic eggnog gained popularity in the United States in the 1960’s.

Egg… What?

"Colonists referred to rum as grog; bartenders served rum in small wooden carved mugs called noggins. Thus the drink eventually became egg-n-grog and over time eggnog."

Dr. Fred Opie, food historian & Babson college professor. By the time the name “eggnog” gained popularity around 1800, the recipe was commonly made with milk, eggs, rum, & sugar.

Why a holiday drink?

  • While the ingredients for eggnog are available year-round, it is usually enjoyed October-December.
  • Eggnog likely became associated with the holidays since it used to be served hot (sometimes still is!) and often includes holiday flavors such as nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla bean.

Eggnog Fun Facts

  • George Washington loved eggnog. His recipe had a twist & was served with 3 different types of liquor: rye whiskey, rum, & sherry (recipe on our website).
  • West Point cadets rioted in 1826 when commanders threatened to disallow their spiked eggnog.
  • Eggnog varies around the world – such as Ecuador’s “Ponche de Leche” or Scotland’s “Auld Man’s Milk.”

If eggnog has raw eggs in it, why is it safe to drink? Store-bought eggnog is pasteurized (heat-treated to kill bacteria). If you make it at home, the FDA advises heating it because alcohol alone won’t make it safe… unless it’s like… George Washington strong.

by Jenna Lee,