The Story Behind EggNog Plus The Best Recipe

Rich, creamy and delicious, eggnog is as much a holiday tradition as Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Today, it is as convenient as picking up a carton at the supermarket. For some people, it isn’t real eggnog unless it is homemade the old-fashioned way.

Eggnog seems to have been around forever. Have you wondered just when it started? It does have a long history. What is believed to be the origin of what we know as eggnog didn’t have eggs in it. In the 1400s, the British had a drink called “posset” that was made of hot milk and ale or wine. Sweetener, such as honey, and spices were often added. This was mostly a drink of the upper classes since common people rarely could afford to buy milk, which was quite expensive.


When “posset” came to Colonial America in the 1700s, eggs were added. Another change was replacing ale or wine with rum. Rum was easier and cheaper to get so it became a common ingredient. In the colonies, the drink became a common drink used to toast one’s health and the holidays. The name it was given in the US may have originally been egg and grog since rum was often referred to as grog. Over time, the name went from egg and grog to egg’n’grog and finally, to eggnog. Some experts say that ‘nog’ comes from the cup it was served in. This small cup was carved of wood and called a ‘noggin’. Since it was so long ago, either explanation for nog could be right.

The basic ingredients of eggnog are milk and/or cream, rum, eggs, sweetener and spices (cinnamon and nutmeg are the most common). Eggnog lovers often have their own special recipes that call for other ingredients, often additional types of alcoholic beverages. George Washington had quite a fondness for eggnog and had created his own recipe. His recipe called for about a dozen eggs, a quart of milk, a quart of cream, a dozen tablespoons of sugar, a pint of brandy, a half pint of rye whiskey, a half pint of Jamaican rum and a quarter pint of sherry. It was quite a stiff drink!

Traditional Eggnog_Recipes_1007x545
Baltimore, Maryland had a New Year’s tradition long ago. Young men would make the rounds of visiting friends to toast the new year and would drink a cup of eggnog in each home. As the day progressed, they became rather drunk. It was considered quite something for someone to finish the rounds of visits.

Eggnog is served all over the world and each country has its own twist on how it is made. Though it is mostly served cold now days, it was originally served hot and still is in some places. In Britain, it is often called egg-flip or, when served hot, egg-hot. It is called “Vaina” in Chile and is made with cocoa powder and brandy. Puerto Rico calls it Coquito and is made with coconut milk.


This year, you can choose how you want your eggnog. Bought in a carton, homemade, with or without alcohol, made with milk or cream; whichever way you prefer it, lift a cup to toast the holidays, friends and family.

The Best EggNog Recipe Ingredients:

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve. Cooked Recipe also available.

**Uncooked recipe contains raw eggs- please see caution statement on ingesting raw eggs.

Recipe from Alton Brown.

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