The Gaucho Gazette

The Life and Times of Eggnog

Love it or hate it, there is no denying that eggnog is a wintertime staple.

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The Life and Times of Eggnog

Eggnog is a symbol of the warmth and comfort that accompanies the holiday season.

Eggnog is a symbol of the warmth and comfort that accompanies the holiday season.

Photo by Vicky Wasick

Eggnog is a symbol of the warmth and comfort that accompanies the holiday season.

Photo by Vicky Wasick

Photo by Vicky Wasick

Eggnog is a symbol of the warmth and comfort that accompanies the holiday season.

Daniel Lubliner, Reporter

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Eggnog is a festive beverage that is enjoyed by many during the wintertime. It can also be called “milk punch” or “egg milk punch” when made with alcohol, and it is generally served chilled. Eggnog is often prepared with milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, egg yolks, and alcoholic additives like rum and bourbon. However, to gain a better understanding of this famed drink, one must gain a better understanding of its delicious history.

Eggnog is a beverage native to the United Kingdom; the word “nog” originated in 1693 to refer to a robust beer that was brewed in East Anglia. However, before there was eggnog, there was posset. Posset is widely believed to be the original iteration of eggnog. As for the derivation of eggnog, many argue that the word “nog” stems from noggins, or small wooden mugs that were used to hold alcoholic beverages. Fredrick Douglas Opie, a professor at Babson College, believes that eggnog was formed out of colonial slang. At that time rum-based posset was known as “grog” and it was served in noggins, later earning it the name “egg-n-grog” and eventually eggnog in 1775.

Initially, the drink was popular among the British aristocracy; it was frequently used in toasts for its valued eggs, milk, and sherry to bring about prosperity and good health. Posset was mixed with costly alcoholic beverages like Madeira wine and brandy to create a drink that is most similar to the alcoholic eggnog of today. Eventually, the beverage made its way across the Atlantic to the British Colonies in America during the 18th century. Because brandy and wine were extremely expensive to import and export due to Parliament legislations that taxed distilled spirits, rum native to the Caribbean was used as a cheaper substitute. This inexpensive liquor in tandem with the surplus of dairy products available to British colonists helped transform eggnog into an immensely popular beverage. However, disaster struck when access to rum produced by the Caribbean Triangular Trade was drastically reduced as a result of the American Revolutionary War. Desperate colonists turned to a plethora of alcoholic alternatives for their posset, ranging from the more expensive bourbon to the less expensive and potentially hazardous homemade moonshine. Ultimately, this iconic spiced drink ascended to popularity due to its alcohol content and piping hot temperature, which explains its connection to a certain Christian holiday like Christmas. Thus, posset stood the test of time through many a holiday season and even today remains a festive favorite by a different name: eggnog.

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The Life and Times of Eggnog