Eggnog, the creamy classic cocktail, is an essential part of the winter holidays. The recipe can vary depending on who’s making it, but the basic formula consists of eggs, sugar, milk and cream, plus a spirit. For the latter, most people turn to bourbon, rum or brandy, and some even elect to combine a couple spirits for oomph. Whichever route you choose, the potency of this drink will put a little more cheer in your holidays.
Eggnog has a rich history with a lot of competing claims as to the origin of the drink, many of which get lost in an etymological debate. It’s possible the word derives from an Old English term for strong beer. Or maybe it comes from noggin, an outdated word used to describe a small cup. Or perhaps the name aligns with grogs, the term given to a variety of alcoholic drinks.
That said, it’s believed that the first known use of the word “Eggnog” dates to around 1775, but it’s likely that the drink itself—or a version of it—preceded the term by a couple hundred years. And there seems to be consensus that Eggnog as we know it today is a culinary descendant of Posset, a warm ale punch with eggs that was consumed by European monks as far back as the 13th century.
In Europe, ale was eventually replaced by sherry. By the time the drink reached American shores, colonists replaced sherry with what they had on hand: rum, rye whiskey and brandy. Those early iterations of the cocktail had staying power, and today, Eggnog is still widely consumed throughout the U.S. and even into Canada. It’s especially popular during the holiday season and can be consumed hot or cold, per the drinker’s preference—and perhaps depending on how brisk the weather outside is.
Regardless of the cocktail’s origin or which spirit is best suited to the creamy mixture, everyone can agree on this: Eggnog is a universally delicious beverage with the capacity to improve any holiday gathering. And because it’s a good candidate for large batches, you’ll have plenty to keep everyone happy.
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup rum, bourbon or brandy
- Garnish: grated nutmeg
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons sugar until fluffy.
Stir in the milk, heavy cream and your spirit of choice.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until soft peaks form.
Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
Divide between four rocks glasses or punch or tea cups.
Garnish each with freshly grated nutmeg.
Raw Egg Warning
Consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.