Spice up your ‘nog
A favorite of US presidents, there are several ways to make eggnog a little merrier this Christmas
As temperature drops, pine trees are lit and fireplaces are aflame, it can only mean one thing: Christmas is right around the corner and with it comes one of the most popular beverages to accompany the holidays.
We’re talking about eggnog, which Americans have consumed with true delight for hundreds of years. Over 122 million pounds of the egg and cream-based drink goes down in the U.S. every year, according to Indiana University, with sales peaking in the weeks before and after Christmas.
Eggnog origins go back to the time of knights, chivalry and castles, when medieval Englishmen drank a posset, a hot cocktail that didn’t include eggs but was made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, and often sweetened and spiced.
Eggs were added to the recipe later, but their high price and scarcity relegated the beverage to the nobles.
But on the arrival to the Colonies, where many had their own chickens and cattle, the drink renewed its popularity among the lower classes. The appeal only grew over time and even made it to the homes of the nation’s new leaders.
George Washington is said to have been one of those who enjoyed a good eggnog mug, albeit with a little extra to warm up bones in the cold winter days of the East Coast.
Kitchen records from the U.S. first president’s plantation, Mount Vernon, show that Washington served a similar drink to visitors packed with rye whiskey, rum and sherry.
Another historical figure who relished eggnog with some spike was Jefferson Davis, who served as president of the Confederate States during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865. Davis was actually one of the participants in the “Eggnog Riot” that took place December 24-25 1826 at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. The revelry began when cadets smuggled whisky into the Academy two days before Christmas to make eggnog, leading to an out-of-control party that simply got out of hand. The riot stopped Christmas morning and many cadets received court-martials.
Dwight Eisenhower was another eggnog lover. In 2015, the U.S. National Archives released the 34th President’s boozy recipe that included one quart of bourbon.
SPICE IT UP!
Whether rum, the original Madeira wine and Sherry of the medieval times, or bourbon, there are plenty of ways to give your eggnog a little kick.
In George Washington’s days, those who couldn’t afford more expensive spirits, opted to add more affordable ale, whiskey, wines or brandy.
In fact, some think “eggnog” comes from “noggin,” small wooden mugs used to serve the drink, “nog,” a Norfolk, Virginia, slang referring to strong ales served on those cups, or yet a contraction colonial Americans used to ask bartenders for a drink, calling for an “egg-and-grog.”
Whatever the case, just about anything with a little alcohol can enrich eggnog, without impacting its creamy, sweet taste, so you can create your own family recipe that you can share with your loved ones.
One suggestion calls for simmering chopped fresh ginger steeped in syrup, chai spices, Chinese five-spice, or pumpkin pie spice for about 10 minutes and then fine-strain out the solids, before adding the eggnog and blended Scotch.
For a little southern comfort, add…well…Southern Comfort and white chocolate liqueur to your eggnog for a “White Christmas” cocktail.
To give your eggnog a “nutty” take, try it with Oloroso or Palo Cortado sherry, stirring the ingredients until properly mixed. Add grated cinnamon or nutmeg seed on top.
Not too long ago, shuttered Chicago eatery GreenRiver created the St. Honoré, a cocktail featuring Hazelburn 12 Yr. Single Malt Scotch, El Dorado 15 Yr. Demerara Rum, Palo Cortado Sherry, can sugar, vanilla syrup, cream, and egg.
For those with a whiskey “tooth,” add ¾ oz. Suntory Toki Whisky and ¾ oz. Grand Mariner to 2 oz. eggnog. Add ice and shake (not stirred) and poured into a martini glass. Toki Whiskey is a good pairing because of its malt and vanilla notes while the Grand Marnier adds a toss of orange flavor.
And if you’re into martinis, another recipe calls for vanilla vodka and amaretto mixed with eggnog for a festive martini. Add some nutmeg and/or cinnamon for added taste.
For a tropical delight, add several drops of angostura bitters, spiced rum or whiskey, and ice and blend it for a holiday milkshake that will transport you to sun-swept beaches and warmer weather.
And if you’re preference is for something “south of the border,” you can try a Mexican eggnog, where you combine 1 part Tequila Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo, 1 part Maker’s Mark Bourbon, 3 parts Eggnog, and whipped cream.
Use any of these recipes to share some enjoyment and cheer with your loved ones this Christmas, just like monks of the 13th century apparently did, using posset, eggs and figs to concoct a drink they used to toast for good health and prosperity among their brethren.
In fact, in the 1800s, eggnog was even recommended as a remedy for some diseases, including malaria.
The drink may not cure those illnesses, but adding a little spice to your eggnog (whether it’s made with soy, almond or rice milk as a substitute for dairy milk for those who are lactose intolerant) will definitely cure the holiday blues.
Written by: Birdie deQuay