History of Eggnog
Information and history about Christmas Eggnog
plus Eggnog Recipes
How it got its name
Mark Stout - Fotolia.com
History of World Cuisines
Today Eggnog is synonymous with Christmas - there's even
an Eggnog Day (24th December). However, some questions beg to be asked as to where
this drink originated and how if got its strange name.
Also known as an Egg Flip, the predecessor of today's
eggnog is believed to have started life in England as early as the 8th Century.
Originally a concoction made of milk mixed with alcohol, frequently beer and
perhaps some spices, it was known as a posset and was initially taken for
medicinal purposes but certainly by the 1550s, they had become a more
fashionable drink amongst the upper classes with posset sets being a popular
gift. It's possible that other parts of Europe were drinking possets too
as Mary 1 of England was given a posset set from the Spanish Ambassador, though
it's possible he just bought it when he arrived in England.
By the 17th century, these milk "punches" had been
transformed into celebratory beverages, often used to toast the health of
friends and family albeit still mainly enjoyed by the more wealthy. One reason
given for its popularity was the fact that there was no refrigeration so
milk couldn't be kept for too long. By this time, alcohols such as
Madeira, sherry and Brandy had replaced the original beer mixer, and eggs had
been added, making an altogether more smooth rich drink.
The Europeans who colonised America took the tradition
with them. Although dairy produce was readily available, imported items such as
Brandy were very expensive and so they started using rum which was much more
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No-one knows for sure how the drink got its name. The
"egg" bit is simple enough but the "nog" bit is a little more challenging.
Taking its origins into account, here are three possibilities:-
- Nog was a 17th century English name for a strong beer.
- Noggin was an old English name for a small wooden
cup used to serve alcohol in hostelries.
= Grog was the name 18th century sailors gave to a mixture
of Rum and water.
It's probably a mixture of all three.
Today forms of eggnog are also made in many other
countries including Germany (Eierlikör), Spain (ponche),
Holland (advocaat) and further afield, Puerto Rico (coquito) and Mexico (Rompope).