Christmas Traditions

Eggnog - The Origins of Christmas in a Glass

Where does eggnog come from and how did it become the official drink of the Christmas season?

by | November 15, 2022

It’s not every holiday that has its own beverage. Sure, people undoubtably drink ice-cold lemonade on the Fourth of July, and cups of steaming hot cider are probably offered at many houses on Thanksgiving. And wine is quite popular on Halloween, at least for Moms of young children trying to get through the night.

But only Christmas indisputably has its very own beverage—eggnog.

History of Eggnog 

The name and origins of eggnog are the subject of some debate. One theory posits that the name dates back to Colonial times—rum, often a part of the drink, was called grog, while the word nog may well come from noggin, another name for a small wooden mug. The drink was originally called egg-n-grog, which transformed into eggnog.

Another theory is that the drink owes its lineage to nugged ale—ale warmed with a hot poker. Many scholars agree that the drink is derived from the British drink known as a posset, which was made with hot milk curdled with wine and flavored with a variety of spices. It originated in the Middle Ages and was often used to heal colds. Since the ingredients were costly, the drink was mainly popular with the upper classes.

Eggnog – Christmas in a Glass

Egg Nog made it way to America, in the 18th century. Since both rum and eggs were readily available, the drink caught on. Primarily served hot and with a combination of spices already associated with wintertime, it became a popular drink around Christmastime.

It was even a favorite of President George Washington, who always served a type of eggnog at Christmas to visitors. (He left out the number of eggs, and fierce debates have raged as to how many should be used.) Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, was also a fan. And like many holiday traditions, it became especially popular with Americans after seeing it in the White House.

How To Make Eggnog

Let’s get to the good stuff: What’s in eggnog? Also known throughout the years as milk punch or egg milk punch, egg nog is traditionally a beverage with a dairy base. It’s made with milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. (Egg whites are what give the beverage its frothy texture). Alcoholic versions have spirits such as brandy, whisky, or rum added. Spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon are generally added as well. The eggs may have been added later, according to some reports: Some accounts say it was added to the drink by monks in the 13th century; they also added figs.

Variations on the drink can be found in many parts of the world, especially during the Christmas season. In Venezuela and Trinidad, a variety called Ponche Crema reigns. In Canada, “Moose milk” offers a version with a large quantity of liquor, while Puerto Rico has Coquito, which includes coconut milk or cream of coconut.

Modern Eggnog

Oddly enough, while Eggnog became popular around Christmas because it was served hot and full of spices that would warm up anyone during the cold season, it is now far more common to find it served cold, even in the middle of winter. And there are plenty of people serving it. A recent report states that about 130 million pounds of eggnog are sold each year in America alone. The drink gets decidedly mixed reactions—some people love it while some…do not.

Today, however, you don’t need to have eggnog just as a drink—while it’s available as a packaged beverage in the supermarket, its flavor is also as part of holiday treats like eggnog lattes, eggnog French toast or even some delicious Eggnog Fudge.

But don’t take our word for it: Make your own Eggnog. There’s no better way to kick off the holiday season!