We don’t know for certain the origins of eggnog. Commonly accepted history credits the British for drinking warm, curdled milk, wine and spice drink called “posset” that evolved into eggnog in the Americas in the middle of the 1700s.
To make modern eggnog, you obviously need eggs (or in some recipes only the egg whites). You beat or whip them until frothy. Add thick whipping cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, any spices that are to your preference and then your alcohol(s) of choice. Most often brandy or whiskey and spiced or dark rum is the kicker. It is an elaborate, pain-in-the-butt recipe that is best made in bulk to avoid continually raising your blood pressure.
When you’re done, I recommend putting it in the refrigerator a full day ahead of your planned drinking to make it as chilled as possible. The colder it is the easier it will be to mask the taste because, and I believe this with all of my heart, eggnog is gross. It’s frosting gravy, which only sounds good in theory.
Unless you are Rocky training for your fight with Apollo Creed or you’re suffering from the flu in the 1800s and get a prescription from your doctor (the same one still recommending bloodletting to remove bad humor) there is no reason to be drinking raw eggs. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps, and my throat seems to be closing up.
And yet, eggnog lovers are passionate advocates for the drink. Every major dairy in the country makes a premade, nonalcoholic eggnog you can take home in a milk carton. In non-pandemic years I have to distract my wife from the dairy section of the grocery store by pointing out the Christmas tree cookies in the bakery.
Never have I gone to a family winter holiday party without seeing the big punch bowl filled with sour milk and dusted with nutmeg. Every aunt, uncle and cousin will ask if I’ve “tried Grandma’s eggnog yet?” The answer is always, “No Uncle Rico! Gosh!” but they keep pestering me until I cave and pour a half-ounce into a coffee mug. I’ll let it touch my lips just so I can spend the rest of the afternoon watching football in peace.
Back home in the Midwest, they ratchet up the brandy-to-egg ratio so at least there is that. Even so, hours later the ghost of eggnog present still feels present on my lips. Taunting me.
When it comes to holiday drinks, I’m all for wassail — which is a hot mulled cider — or a Gluhwein, the traditional hot Austrian spiced wine drink. Rumor is Meadiocrity Mead has produced a honey-based variation this year called Gluhmet that they are serving hot or cold and that I’m looking forward to trying. My point is, I’m open to trying new things, but eggnog is where I draw my line in the snow. Eggnog is gross. Prove me wrong.
Be sure to check out the most recent episode of the Cheers! North County podcast featuring my full conversation with Brandon Hernandez, the founder of San Diego Beer News, and Cody Thompson, host and founder of Beer Night in San Diego. Stream it right here on The Coast News.
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