Many people believe that the tradition of making eggnog comes from Europe and I also know of people who begin to make and drink their eggnog with or without alcohol on Thanksgiving. Ages ago various milk and wine punches had been first made in the “Old World”. However, when the punches arrived in America instead of wine, rum was used for the first time. In Colonial America rum was most often called “grog” and it is likely that the name eggnog was derived from the way this drink was described as “egg-and-grog”. Later on, just becoming known as eggnog. This is one version.
Others claim that the word “nog” comes from “noggin” which was a small, wooden, carved mug from which drinks were served at a table in taverns. The first eggnog might have been a mixture of Spanish sherry and milk and the English called this “Dry sack posset”. If you put it all together it just might have been “egg and grog in a noggin”. Soon eggnog became a popular drink in the winter in Colonial America. I think that with egg, grog, and noggin a nice limerick could be created.
A period author, Pierce Egan wrote a book “Life in London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and His Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom” in the 1820s. In order to popularize his book he made up a variation of eggnog calling it “Tom and Jerry”. It consisted of adding ½ an ounce of brandy to the basic recipe. In the 1800s eggnog was usually made in large quantities and drunk socially. Served at parties at Christmas time. A tradition among young men in Baltimore a cup of eggnog was served when they went to visit friends on New Year’s Day. They would get more and more drunk with each visit and it was quite a jolly time.
A great fan of eggnog was America’s first President George Washington. He made up his own recipe which included rye whiskey, rum, and sherry.
By now I think most of you know that I have two nationalities. I am actually known to be an American Latvian Therefore I also remember how Latvians reacted to some of the American Christmas traditions because it was something new to them.
It was definitely not a Latvian tradition to have eggnog at Christmas. Now that the Latvians had arrived in America starting with the 1950s it was time to learn new traditions. However, if no one is around to tell you or even warn you that a lot of eggnogs contains rum what’s a person to do? So as the Latvians settled in, as families grew, as friends were made the round of Christmas parties started. Christmas parties which were so very different from what they all remembered.
No one wants to stand out like a sore thumb. So at one Christmas party, the younger family members brought along their parents. If I remember in this family were a middle-aged man, his parents, his middle-aged wife and an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. Well, they soon discovered that children were very welcome at Christmas parties and were always provided with special entertainment. So the younger members of the family were having a jolly time.
The parents discovered other parents who knew the ropes and soon forgot about the elderly members of the family. Well, grandma and grandpa wandered about looking at everything and seeing what others were doing and felt very out of place. Then they were lead to the eggnog punch bowl. No one told them you had to watch what you drink. The eggnog was delicious and if you know the right way to make it then it was creamy, spicy and tasted wonderful. You couldn’t really tell there was any alcohol in it. Grandma and grandpa had a wonderful time. No, they didn’t get drunk. They got jolly and isn’t that what Christmas parties are all about?
Eggnog is still a popular holiday drink and hard for some to imagine Christmas without eggnog. However, now it is also drunk without alcohol. You can find recipes online. With or without rum or other spirits it is still a delicious drink.
Do you have eggnog at Christmas?