Americans have made eggnog as long as there has been an America. One year longer, in fact, since the earliest record of eggnog here is a 1775 recipe. Since then, holiday season celebrations have centered on a punch bowl brimming with that chilled, rich, delicious quaff. While its history is hazy, it’s generally believed eggnog evolved from a medieval drink that became popular in England before early settlers introduced it to the Colonies. The colonists in turn added rum and called it egg and grog, the colonial term for rum. Over time, the name slurred into egg’n’grog and eventually to eggnog.
Like any long-standing custom, the original recipe has had so many twists and turns that there is no one “right” way to make it. Give these modern-day versions a try.
Eggnog for one
3 ounces rum or brandy
1 tablespoon finely granulated sugar
3⁄4 cup milk or cream Grated nutmeg
Combine first four ingredients. Shake well with ice and strain into a grass. Sprinkle the top with grated nutmeg.
Eggnog for a crowd
1 dozen large eggs
11⁄2 cups superfine sugar
1 quart milk
1 quart heavy cream
1 quart each bourbon, rum and brandy
Separate the egg yolks and whites. Beat egg yolks until frothy. Slowly add sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in milk. Whip cream in a separate bowl and fold it into the mixture. Slowly stir in bourbon, rum and brandy. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture with a fork. Refrigerate. Transfer to a punch bowl and sprinkle with nutmeg before serving.
For sherry eggnog, replace the rum, bourbon and brandy with sherry. Substitute tawny port and call it port eggnog. Or substitute Irish cream for Irish cream eggnog.
For the guest who wants a cup of eggnog minus alcohol, beat one egg with a teaspoon of sugar, add ¼ teaspoon of vanilla and fill the cup with milk or cream. Stir and sprinkle with nutmeg.
And if all this is still not rich enough, use vanilla ice cream in place of milk and cream.
In 1866, an English visitor to the United States noted, “At Christmas, everyone brews egg nogg [sic], everyone calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated with egg-nogging. It is…to be commended.”
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