Know The History and Origin of Eggnog
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For most people, eggnog is a drink that evokes memories, and people either love it or despise it. Whatever the feelings are about it, it's difficult to ignore that it is deeply rooted in holiday traditions. That has been the case for centuries, and the drink has evolved into numerous spiked and nonalcoholic forms as it has travelled the world.

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Why Is The Drink Known As Eggnog?

The term "eggnog" may not sound appealing. Some people are put off by the guttural sound and the prospect of drinking eggs. There are various theories as to how it got its now-famous name.

One of the theories about the name states that eggnog is derived from "nog," an Old English term for strong beer. There's also a chance it came from "noggin," a 16th-century term for a small cup. Another story is that the name comes from American colonists who called thick drinks "grogs" and eggnog "egg-and-grog." By the time it emerged in print, the words had been combined to form "eggnog" (also spelled "egg nogg" or "egg-nog").

What Is The Origin Of Eggnog?

Culinary researchers have tracked the history of eggnog back to a medieval British punch called "posset," which was warm milk curdled with alcohol like wine or beer and spiced.  Monks in medieval Europe introduced their own spin on posset by offering it with figs and eggs.  During the seventeenth century, the elites drank their eggnogs with sherry to show off their wealth.  For instance, "My Lord of Carlisle's Sack-Posset" was made with a heated mixture of cream, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, eighteen egg yolks, eight egg whites, and one pint of sherry.

In colonial America, eggnog was prepared with rum from the Caribbean Islands, which was cheap compared to maximum liquors imported from England.  This rich brew became a must-have holiday drink throughout the colonies, with each region creating its own version.  While rum was popular among colonists, southern families liked bourbon or whisky.  When the western states settled down, eggnog was offered hot or cold, with various spirits like Madeira wine, hard cider, or tequila.

Doctors thought the drink was a perfect means to provide medication and vitamins to those on liquid diets in the nineteenth century.  Eggnogs were added to the convalescent diets of patients healing from typhoid fever, dysentery, diphtheria, operations, ulcers, and tuberculosis.  Eggs are high in proteins, fats, and other necessary vitamins, and they help with a variety of bodily functions.  "Warming spices," such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper, have health benefits, such as relief from stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and nausea. 

During the early 1900s, parents were advised to prepare a non-alcoholic eggnog and conceal the texture by flavouring the drink with chocolate or fruit syrups for children who did not like eggs. 

Eggnog is now served all over the world, but it has many varieties according to the region.  Mexican eggnog ("rompope") contains rum or grain alcohol mixed with a bit of Mexican cinnamon and vanilla.  Puerto Rican egg nog offers a vibrant flavour thanks to the addition of rum, fresh coconut juice, or coconut milk.  Pisco, a pomace brandy, is used to create Peruvian egg nog ("biblia con pisco").  Eggnog is enhanced in Germany by an egg liquor (eierlikör), which is created with evaporated milk that has a custard flavor and rum. Other variations of German eggnog involve beverages flavoured with sugar, cloves, tea, lemon or lime juice, and cinnamon and prepared with beer ("biersuppe") or white wine ("eierpunsch").

When Did Eggnog Become A Christmas Tradition?

Eggnog, a rich and typically alcoholic drink, evolved into a popular holiday drink throughout the colonies and ultimately in the new country of the United States in the 1700s. Eggnog was often prepared without alcohol, and every region tailored the drink to their own preferences. People in the South, for example, preferred whisky to rum.

It is claimed that George Washington created his own recipe and the most daring guests were allowed to participate. One recipe widely associated with the first President was a boozy concoction of brandy, rye whisky, Jamaican rum, and sherry. But no eggnog recipe was discovered in the Washington family's archive, according to "The Old Farmer's Almanack" (and Mount Vernon librarians). It's most likely a nineteenth-century recipe.

The 'Tom and Jerry' is a rum and brandy eggnog cocktail. Pierce Egan, a British journalist, created it in 1920. This cocktail is believed to have inspired the Tom and Jerry cartoon! Eggnog was traditionally served warm. But eggnog was served cold when "Professor" Jerry Thomas published the first bartending books in the late 1800s. 


Eggnog's basic recipe has remained unchanged during all these years: eggs are beaten with sugar, milk, cream, and (often) a distilled spirit or fortified wine. There are many recent versions of the traditional eggnog recipe that can be quite enjoyable and unique, and they are still a favourite for holiday parties. It's a great starting point for experimenting, and everything from spices to tequila has been introduced to the eggy cocktail. Vegan eggnogs are also available.

However, the core eggnog recipe has remained unchanged since the invention of posset: eggs are beaten with sugar, milk or cream is blended in, and a distilled spirit or fortified wine is added with spices. Full-fat milk and cream are still the best options, but almond and rice milks are flavorful options.  While a few might consider eggnogs to be revitalising in times of illness, for many, they are nostalgic, connected to holiday traditions and family memories.