What’s the Story Behind Eggnog?
You wouldn’t believe it, but people have been drinking eggnog to ring in the holidays for almost a thousand years. It seems like it started back in England. Specifically, it originated in Medieval England, when monks in the 13th century drank a beverage called “posset,” which contained milk, eggs, sherry, figs, and other spices. If you could afford to eat eggs you were probably quite rich, so drinking posset was both a great way to show off to your friends and also a good-luck drink to toast the New Year.Then later in colonial America, when rum was cheaper and easier to come by than in the Old World (since it was much closer to the Caribbean), eggnog started featuring rum. Back then, the colonial slang word for rum was grog, and bartenders used to serve drinks in wooden cups called noggins – so it’s likely that the word eggnog was just a combination of these two colonial terms.
By the late 18th century, the drink was popular throughout the Americas and Europe, not just the USA. Puerto Ricans created a similar boozy drink called “coquito,” which featured coconut milk in the prep (go figure). Mexicans called their version “rompope” (fun fact: you can find frozen rompope in the ice cream section of grocery stores there), and the Germans subbed out the rum for beer in their “biersuppe.” Today you can find eggnog on the shelves of most major grocery stores, especially between November and January. What you might not know is that for health and safety reasons, the eggnog you find in stores can only have up to 1% raw egg. Obviously this is to avoid salmonella outbreaks and lawsuits (Merry Christmas!), but this means that if you only ever try supermarket eggnog, you have no idea what the real thing tastes like. That’s a shame, because if you enjoy all the other yummy spices that characterize holiday food, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t love eggnog if given the chance to try the real McCoy.In case you’re an eggnog virgin but want to have the real thing, here’s a house recipe that, according to Jamie Oliver, is the best in the world. That’s up to you to decide, though.
Ultimate Eggnog Recipe
- 3 cups (700ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy or double cream
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
- 5 eggs, separated
- 2/3 (130g) cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (175ml) Bacardi Dark Rum, or bourbon
In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds, and nutmeg. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and allow to steep.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until combined and thick ribbons form when the whisk is lifted. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to mix until the mixture is combined and smooth. Add bourbon or rum, and stir. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.
Before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into eggnog until combined. Serve and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.