Brandy, rye whiskey, rum, sherry: Can you handle George Washington’s eggnog?

Published 2:52 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

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Eggnog, the holiday milk- and egg-based concoction is tasty on its own, or it can be dressed up with other flavors and spiked with a favorite spirit.

Indulge in these facts, courtesy of Mental Floss, Fact Site and Tastemade.

• Eggnog originated in the medieval period and was known as “posset,” a hot, milk-based drink made of spices and wine. Even though posset could be a cocktail, it was used as a remedy for colds and flu.

• Milk, eggs and sherry used in the early recipes were difficult to come by, so when eggnog first appeared it was a drink only the wealthy could enjoy. That changed when eggnog was popularized in the American colonies, where dairy products and liquor were readily available.

• Entymologists believe “eggnog” stems from the word “noggin,” which refers to small wooden mugs often used to serve strong ale, known by the slang word “nog.”

• In the Medieval period, it was risky to drink milk straight because it wasn’t pasteurized. Eggnog contained alcohol so it would kill harmful bacteria.

• A typical homemade version of eggnog has roughly one egg per serving. However, commercial eggnog is regulated by the FDA and can only contain 1 percent of the product’s final weight in egg yolk solids. That stems from fear of raw egg and salmonella.

• President George Washington enjoyed serving eggnog at Christmas, and had his own special recipe, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

• There is no right or wrong alcohol to use when preparing eggnog. Distilled spirits like rum, sherry, cognac, and whiskey all have produced suitable eggnogs.

• Individuals concerned about eggs or milk in eggnog can enjoy a vegan recipe made from nut milk. Commercially produced vegan eggnog offerings are now more widely available.

• One of the more notable flavors in eggnog comes from the use of nutmeg, a fragrant spice made from grinding the seed of the nutmeg tree.


(George Washington’s original interpretation)

1 quart cream

1 quart milk

1 dozen tablespoons sugar

1 pint brandy

1⁄2 pint rye whiskey

1⁄2 pint Jamaican rum

1⁄4 pint sherry

Eggs (Washington forgot to include the number of eggs, so home chefs can improvise or use six, which seems to be the standard in traditional recipes).

Mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let sit in cool place for several days. Taste frequently. Tip: Today’s recipe makers may want to set the eggnog in the refrigerator as the “cool place” of choice.  TF23C553