December 24 is National Eggnog Day

national eggnog dayToday is National Eggnog Day, celebrated each year on Christmas Eve. The sweetened drink is traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, eggs, and spices, often mixed with spirits such as rum, brandy or some combination of liquors.

Also known as egg milk punch, it has a rich history dating back to “posset,” a hot beverage that mixed milk and eggs with wine or beer. Eggs and milk were a rare commodity among the peasants of medieval England, so it was most often drunk by the wealthy in toasts to health and prosperity.

In the 1700s, eggnog crossed the Atlantic to the Americas, where its use was more widespread due to colonists’ direct access to chickens and cows. England’s high import taxes on brandy, its preferred alcoholic ingredient, made cheap, readily available rum a popular substitute.

If you’d like to try your hand at making eggnog, you can’t go wrong with George Washington’s recipe. The father of our country used four different kinds of alcohol. Parties at Mount Vernon must have been a lot of fun.

He might have had a tipple before penning the directions: he forgot to include the number of eggs needed. Cooks of his era estimated that a dozen eggs would suffice. Here are his instructions:

One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—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 set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

If the thought of raw eggs doesn’t thrill you, try this cooked version. Omit the alcohol if you’re the designated driver. Have a happy National Eggnog Day!

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