Many people believe eggnog is a tradition brought to America from Europe a couple of hundred years ago. This is only partially true. Eggnog relates to many different milk and wine punches concocted long ago in the “Old World.” Once in the Americas, a new twist was put on the old theme. Rum was used in the place of wine. In Colonial America, rum was commonly called “grog”, so the name eggnog is likely derived from the very descriptive term for this drink, “egg-and-grog”, which corrupted to egg’n’grog and soon to eggnog. Make’s perfect sense to me – Eggnog goes good with practically anything that doesn’t involve driving or operating dangerous machinery. Don’t let Uncle Harvey near the wood chipper when he’s been nogging.
Others think the “nog” of eggnog comes from the word “noggin.” In ye bloody ol’ England a noggin was a small, wooden, carved mug. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns. It is thought that eggnog started out as a mixture of Spanish “Sherry” and milk. The English called this concoction “Dry sack posset.” It is very easy to see how an egg drink in a noggin could become eggnog.
The true story might be a mixture of the two and eggnog was originally called “egg and grog in a noggin”. (Say that real fast three times.)
With its European roots and the availability of the ingredients, eggnog soon became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. It was extrememly popular in the colonies. What’s not to like? It was rich, spicy, and alcoholic.
Eggnog, in the 1800s was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, “Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.”
Our first President, George Washington, was quite a fan of eggnog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try.
Eggnog is still a popular drink during the holidays, and its social character remains. It is hard to imagine a Christmas without a cup of the “nog” to spice up the atmosphere and lend merriment and joy to the proceedings.
I never met a nog I didn’t like.