December 18, 2018 – Eggnog has been around for centuries. Food historians believe it got its start in Medieval times when a drink called “posset” made of hot milk, sugar and spices was enjoyed in the winter months. The sugar was surely honey back in the day. There is a record, apparently, of 13th Century monks drinking posset with eggs and figs. It was thought to be good for what ails you such as winter colds and chills and no doubt it was.
Where “nog” came into to it is not really known for sure but it could refer to the small wooden cup the British used to serve drinks called a noggin or it might have been a reference to strong beer called nog, or it might have developed in the American colonies where eggs n’ grog morphed into eggnog. First known use was around 1775 according to Merriam-Webster.
The hot milk and strong ale mixture, which sounds hideous, gradually gave way to wine and milk. The wine component was often sherry or brandy and along with eggs and milk it became the drink of the wealthy as these ingredients were not readily available in Europe. The libation made its way to the American colonies where milk and eggs were plentiful and the alcohol of choice became less expensive rum.
Our first President, George Washington was a big fan of eggnog and even published his own recipe. No expense was spared when it came to the addition of spirits:
One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ pint sherry – mix liquor first, then separate the yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let sit in a cold place for several days.
President Washington forgot to say how many eggs to use but various food mavens suggest it was probably a dozen. He also added to the recipe: “Taste frequently.”
Today eggnog mixture can be found in grocery stores, just add your own booze, or not. We’ll admit to enjoying the one from Trader Joe’s. The downside to any eggnog is all the calories. But then Christmas only comes once a year and we can diet in January. The adage, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we diet!” applies here.
Eggnog adapted for local tastes. In the American South, they preferred whiskey to rum. For those wary of raw eggs, Oregon Oak Nog featuring Trail’s End Bourbon, cooks them to 160 F degrees. Or keep it simple with just three ingredients combining the traditional holiday flavors of Brandy and ginger in Gingerbread Nog. In Puerto Rico they left out the eggs, added coconut and called it Coquito. In Cuba, they went all in with six egg yolks in a recipe for a crowd. Rum, of course, is the star.
Recipe Courtesy of Hood River Distillers Tasting Room
1 ½ oz Clear Creek American Pot Still Brandy
½ oz Bittermilk No. 7 Gingerbread Old Fashioned Syrup*
1 oz Heavy Cream or Half & Half
Method: Shake on ice and strain into rocks glass with fresh ice. Dust with ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
(A great use for all of those Mule Mugs you’ve been collecting!)
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3-6 oz Trail’s End Bourbon – 8-year-old Kentucky Bourbon finished with Oregon Oak
1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
4 egg whites
Method: Beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture. Pour into chilled copper mugs and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
2 parts Bacardi Superior Rum
3/4 part of evaporated milk
3/4 part of condensed milk
1 part coconut creme (preferably Coco Lopez)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 pinch cinnamon
Garnish: coconut flakes & cinnamon sticks
Method: Shake all ingredients vigorously with plenty of ice and strain into a glass mug. Garnish with cinnamon and coconut flakes.
Crème de Vie (Cuban Egg Nog)
4 parts Havana Club Añejo Blanco rum
8 parts sweetened condensed milk
8 parts evaporated milk
16 parts sugar
8 parts water
6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
Method:Mix the sugar and water together over very low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves – about 3 minutes. The heat must be just low enough so that the sugar doesn’t caramelize, but yields a thick sugary water. Place the egg yolks in a blender and mix with the condensed milk. Slowly add the evaporated milk and mix completely. Flavor with vanilla. Pour the egg yolk and milk mixture into the sugar-water, and mix together. Finally, stir in the rum