Traditional Christmas Cocktails: The Eggnog

The classic eggnog

As the year draws to a close, a noticeable shift in the air signals the arrival of the long-awaited festive season, bidding farewell to the year. Alongside this transition, the enticing aromas of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and other festive treats permeate the atmosphere. Among the array of Christmas classics intertwined with these spices, Eggnog stands out. A quintessential drink for Christmas gatherings, Eggnog holds a special place in the hearts of many. Let’s delve into the history of this classic recipe and unravel some of its most intriguing facts.

The Origin of Eggnog
The origins of Eggnog are shrouded in the mists of time, reaching back to medieval Britain. One prevailing theory traces it to a hot, milky ale-like beverage enjoyed during that time. This festive drink eventually evolved to incorporate eggs and spices, resembling the classic Eggnog we recognise today.

Traditional Eggnog

The journey of Eggnog continued across the Atlantic Ocean, finding its way to the American colonies. Here, amidst the abundance of milk, eggs, and rum, the drink found its perfect companions for festive celebrations, further enhanced by the addition of spices. As the 18th century dawned, Eggnog became synonymous with the holiday season. 

Classic Eggnog Recipe
Let’s look at all the ingredients you will need to create this Christmas staple:

6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup bourbon (or rum, for a traditional touch)
Pinch of salt

To prepare the drink:
Begin by separating the egg yolks from the whites, and placing them in separate bowls. Combine the granulated sugar with the yolks, beating consistently until a thick, creamy texture forms. Gradually add the milk, stirring the mixture to create the base for the Eggnog. Introduce grated nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon powder for warmth and flavour, enhancing the drink’s aromatic profile. Elevate the drink with a splash of bourbon or rum, a crucial element that adds a festive kick. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until fluffy, gently folding them into the Eggnog mixture. Add a pinch of salt for balance. Refrigerate the concoction, remembering to give it a good stir before serving on Christmas day.

The Chocolate Version of Eggnog
In the spirit of the festive season, you can also experiment with a chocolate variant of the drink. To create it, you will need:

6 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
Whipped cream for topping

Savoury Eggnog

To prepare the drink:
Follow the same steps as you would with a classic Eggnog recipe – begin by separating the eggs, whisking the yolks with sugar, combining ingredients, beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and folding them into the yolk mixture. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, add the chocolate syrup to the mixture. Gently fold it in until the chocolate is evenly distributed. Refrigerate the drink for at least 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, give it a final stir, and ladle it into glasses. Top each glass with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.

Served for centuries, Eggnog stands as a timeless Christmas classic, and yet it embraces modern twists. There are many variations of the drink that incorporate cognac or brandy, which imparts a rich and warming dimension. A non-alcoholic variation has also gained popularity, catering to those who abstain from spirits during the festive season. For an added layer of distinction, consider introducing flavoured syrups or spiced liquor to elevate the traditional Eggnog experience.

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