Eggnog, or egg nog is a chilled, sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, whipped eggs (which gives it a frothy texture) and spirits such as brandy, rum or bourbon. The finished serving is often garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg. Eggnog is often provided to guests in a large punch bowl, from which cups of eggnog are ladled.
Eggnog is traditionally consumed throughout Canada and the United States from American Thanksgiving through the end of the Christmas seasons every year. Eggnog can be served as a homemade beverage or purchased from stores. Homemade eggnog was traditionally made with raw eggs.
The origin and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk, eggs were added to some posset recipes. The “nog” part of its name may stem from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol.
In Britain, the drink was popular mainly among the aristocracy. Those who could get milk and eggs mixed it with brandy, Mederia or sherry to make a drink similar to modern alcoholic egg nog. The drink crossed the Atlantic to the British colonies during the 18th century. The liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America.
Traditional eggnog is made of milk or cream, sugar, raw eggs, an alcoholic spirit, and spices, often vanilla or nutmeg. Some modern commercial eggnogs add gelatin and other thickeners, with less egg and cream. There are variations in ingredients, and toppings may be added.
Eggnog can be made commercially, as well as domestically. Ready-made eggnog versions are seasonally available with different spirits, or without alcohol, to be drunk as bought or used as “mixes” with all the ingredients except the liquor, to be added as desired.
Traditional eggnog has a significant fat and sugar content; low-fat and sugar-free formulations are available using skimmed or low-fat milk.