Roll Out The Barrel...It's Eggnog Time!

By, Jesse LaVancher 

Rich, creamy and incredibly potent. That’s my rule of thumb when making eggnog. As I was thinking about my traditional hangover-inducing recipe, I started to wonder, “How did humans first think chugging a spiced and spiked egg and milk mixture was a good idea?”

Believe it or not, eggnog has charmed drinkers for nearly a millennium. Most culinary historians agree that eggnog originated from the early medieval England “posset,” a hot, milky, ale-like drink, sometimes made with wine or sherry. In medieval England, milk, eggs, and sherry were foods that only the wealthy could enjoy. As such, eggnog became used in toasts to prosperity and good health. What is less clear is the etymology of the word “eggnog.”

When the various milk and wine punches from the Old World made their way across the pond in the 1700s, the drink got a lot more potent. American colonists replaced the wine with something they had in abundance: rum. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called “grog.” Some believe the egg-based drink, “egg-and-grog,” eventually became just eggnog. Others believe the “nog” comes from the word “noggin,” which was a small, wooden mug used to serve drinks at tables in taverns. Whatever its origins, by the late 1700s the combined term “eggnog” had stuck. Eggnog quickly became a popular holiday drink throughout Colonial America because it’s rich, spicy and alcoholic nature kept colonists warm and merry during the winter.

George Washington was a huge fan of eggnog. He even concocted his own recipe that was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try.

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George Washington’s Eggnog Recipe

• 1 Pint Brandy

• ½ Pint Rye Whiskey

• ½ Pint Rum

• ¼ Pint Sherry

• 12 Eggs

• 12 Tablespoons Sugar

• 1 Quart Milk

• 1 Quart Heavy Cream

Mix liquor first. Then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks and mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

As you prepare to celebrate this holiday season, I encourage you to try this fine Virginia recipe and revel in the flavor and history of this frothy brew. But please drink responsibly. GW’s recipe not only has a lot of alcohol, it also packs about 400 calories per cup! But that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for. Right?