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Eggnog – A Drink for Christmas Fellowship

EggnogApart from the celebratory glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, eggnog is the other drink that deserves a traditional place during the holidays. To the uninitiated, eggnog can seem like a strange drink; it is a rather sweet concoction that combines milk, cream, whipped cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and spirits.  For many, however, frothy eggnog served in a punchbowl represents the fellowship that friends and family enjoy every time the Yuletide season comes around.

The Eggnog Tradition

Eggnog is traditionally served in Canada during the Christmas season; in the United States some kitchens begin serving it from Thanksgiving till New Year. Although not all food historians agree on exactly where and when the tradition began, most concur that today’s drink probably had its beginnings in the medieval British drink called “posset”. This was an ale-like beverage commonly taken with eggs, and it was used mainly used for toasts.

By the 1700s, this drink had traveled to the American colonies, and by the 1800s, rum had become an integral part of the drink (now referred to as eggnog). In Food.com’s George Washington’s Eggnong (I’m Not Kidding!), Carrie Sheridan shares the Founding Father’s rather strong version. To begin, it includes a whole pint of brandy, a pint of rye whisky, a pint of Jamaican rum, and a pint of sherry. Mix this with a dozen eggs (separated), 12 tablespoons of sugar, a quart of milk, and a quart of heavy cream. There is probably enough spirits in this recipe to make sure everyone is a jolly good fellow after a cup or two.

In Business Insider’s George And Martha Washington Had A Super-Strong Eggnog Recipe That We Can’t Wait To Make, Steven Perlberg has this to say about the eggnog that George and Martha Washington served: Back in 1783, Annapolis was the Temporary Capital of the US.  George Washington – fresh off military victories – lived in Annapolis with Martha over that winter – resigning his commission leading the Continental Army on Dec 23rd in our State House.  Well, George and Martha could throw a heckofa party – and it was all centered around their ‘infamous’ EggNog.”

Today’s Eggnog

Today’s celebrity chefs have come up with their own eggnog recipes, eggs (separated)                                                          

but none are as strongly flavored with spirits as Washington’s version. In Martha’s  Classic Eggnog Recipe, Martha Stewart lets readers know how she makes this holiday drink. Her recipe includes half a dozen eggs, 2 cups whole milk, ¾ cup sugar (superfine), three cups heavy cream, half a cup of bourbon, ¼ cup rum, ¼ cup Cognac, and freshly grated nutmeg.

Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond writes about the eggnog she creates in her kitchen in Tasty Kitchen’s Homemade Eggnog. Her version uses maple syrup as sweetener and a dozen eggs gently cooked till they reach a temperature of 170 and 175° F.

She says, “To me, eggnog is the iconic Christmas drink. When we were little, around Christmastime, Mom would carefully pour out mini glasses of the thick, wonderfully flavored beverage and cut it with a bit of milk. We savored what little we got from the small carton…Now that I’ve learned to make it at home, I can enjoy it in much larger quantities. Which is a good thing, right?”

Making your Own Eggnog

Eggnog is a relatively easy drink to make, so if you want to create a bowl or two this season, go right ahead and enjoy the experience. Today you can even make versions that allow you to pasteurize your mixture so you have a safer beverage. You can limit your eggnog’s alcohol content or zing it up so it is as potent as the drink Washington used to serve. No matter what recipe you use for eggnog, remember that eggnog isn’t eggnog without the company to share it with.

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