Egg Nog, (or Eggnog / Eggnogg) was, from the 1800’s, commonly served in homes at Christmas and the New Year. It probably evolved from the earlier ‘Posset’ drinks, perhaps from the traditional Butterbeer, Lambswool or ‘Egg Flip‘ (the term ‘Flip’ was first used in 1695 to describe a mixture of beer, rum, and sugar, heated with a red-hot iron). Although unlike the Egg Flip or Butterbeer, which are traditionally drunk warm, Egg Nog is drunk cold … and it was noted by an Englishman, in 1866, that, “Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nog for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging … It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.”
One of the most common things asked about the drink is where does the name ‘Eggnog’ come from? It is thought that the “nog” part of its name may stem from the word “noggin”, a Middle English term used to describe a small, wooden, carved mug used to serve alcohol. Or, in another explanation, the term could have derived from the name “egg-and-grog”, grog being a common British sailor’s term used to describe rum, and eventually the term was shortened to “egg’n’grog”, then “eggnog”.
The classic and authentic Victorian Eggnog recipe below is delicious at Christmas and the New Year, wonderfully smooth and creamy, but it can also be brought up to date, with the added hint of Vanilla, which brings a refreshing clean taste to the Eggnog as a complementing flavour to the milk and cream. However, if you would like to make it like an authentic Victorian recipe from the 1800’s just leave out the vanilla pod seeds or extract as it is exactly the same classic Victorian recipe. Note: this is nothing like a ‘sickly-sweet’ shop bought bottle of eggnog, it is far classier, cleaner tasting, creamier and refreshing – and a drink that compliments and contrasts a traditional Eggnog is this Lambs Wool (which is highly recommended to be served with it).
Note on alcohol: The recipe below creates a strong, great tasting Eggnog, with just the right amount of bite and strength from the rum and brandy, (300ml) if you would like to make it even stronger then only increase the alcohol content by another 50ml for each of the two spirits, (taking the alcohol content to 400ml in total) otherwise it will overpower the taste of the Eggnog, defeating the point of this authentic recipe, which is very refreshing rather than harsh tasting.
Note on eggs: The recipe calls for raw eggs to be whisked into the eggnog – always use the freshest eggs available from a reliable source, and take care when cracking the shells open (wash the shells first) – if worried, an authentic eggnog like this should not be drunk by the very old or very young.
Note on storing / serving: This recipe makes just under 2 litres – and it can be made up to two days in advance of when needed. Store the made up Eggnog in the fridge in a sealed or covered flask, jar, serving jug or bottle – shake (or whisk) the Eggnog just before serving to froth it up a little. To make more just scale up the ingredients.
- 8 eggs,
- 200g of sugar
- 1 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg – extra grated for garnish
- 150ml of brandy
- 150ml of dark rum
- 700ml of full fat milk
- 500ml of double (or ‘heavy‘) cream – you can use single (or ‘light’) cream if you wish.
Optional: Add to bring this recipe up to date with the addition of Vanilla
- 1 Vanilla Pod (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
Tip: Always chill all the liquids so they don’t scramble the eggs when everything is mixed together.
First beat and whisk the eggs until they become frothy in a large mixing bowl. After whipping the eggs gradually beat in the sugar first, and then grate in the nutmeg (about 20 shavings).
Optional: if you would like to add in a little refreshing ‘sweetness’ at this stage to the eggnog, add in the vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract) – use a sharp knife to cut length ways down the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.
Finally stir in the milk, cream, brandy and rum – each separately, and in that order, and each a little at a time. Be patient when adding in each of the ingredients, whisk everything thoroughly before adding in the next ingredient. Pour the Eggnog into a jug, or flask, cover or seal, and chill in the fridge.
Chill for a few hours (or up to 2 days) before serving – shake or whisk the Eggnog to froth it up and then pour or ladle into glasses with a little fresh grated nutmeg on the top.
Notes on making: taking the words of wisdom from 1866 to our hearts we know that Egg Nog should be, “made cold and drunk cold” . . . therefore chill all the liquids from the ingredients, including the alcohol, before making. Use the largest mixing bowl you have to whisk everything in, it makes it so much easier if you use an oversize bowl as you can whisk everything without worrying it will spill everywhere, otherwise make it in two smaller batches. Traditionally milk was always (before the 1950s) full fat, unpasteurised, and much creamier than it is today, so along with milk we are adding in cream.
You may also be interested to know how a simple, yet powerful, Eggnog came to you served in an 1800s bar …
Egg Nogg 1862 [bar style]
Makes 1 Drink in a tall glass. Ingredients: 1 tbsp of fine sugar dissolved in 1 tbsp of cold water; 1 egg; 1 wine-glass of brandy; 1/2 wine-glass of rum; 1/3 tumbler of milk.
Method: as a note these measurements would make a powerful alcoholic eggnog … the recipe recommends a ‘tin egg-nogg shaker’ or what we now call a ‘cocktail shaker’ … fill a 1/4 of the cocktail shaker with cracked ice, then fill it 1/3 with milk (use a very creamy milk) then add in the other ingredients, shake, then pour (through a strainer) into a tall glass or tumbler and grate some nutmeg on the top … this is how Eggnog as a cocktail was served in bars in the 1800s – from Jerry Thomas, ‘How To Mix Drinks’ 1862 (see below).
If you take a look at the 1862 recipe by Jerry Thomas below you can see how Egg Nog was originally made for a customer in a bar at Christmas: as for the measurement do. it just means ‘ditto’, so a full measure, or a half measure, etc. of what went before.
Original Recipe For Egg Nog 1859
From ‘The Philosophy of Housekeeping’ By Joseph Bardwell Lyman, 1859
Egg Nog. — Teaspoonful of sugar well beaten with an egg; add a gill of milk, and then, by degrees, one or two tablespoonfuls of good French brandy; spice with grated nutmeg.
Original Recipes For Egg Nogg 1862
Recipe By Jerry Thomas
‘How To Mix Drinks’ published 1862
Egg Nogg (makes 1 drink) (use a large bar glass)
1 table-spoonful of fine sugar; dissolved with 1 do. cold water; 1 egg; 1 wine-glass of Cognac brandy; 1/2 do. Santa Cruz rum; 1/3 tumblerful of milk.
Fill the tumbler 1/4 full with shaved ice, shake the ingredients until they are thoroughly mixed together, and grate a little nutmeg on top. Every well ordered bar has a tin egg-nogg “shaker”, which is a great aid in mixing this beverage.
Egg Nogg. (For a party of forty.)
1 dozen eggs; 2 quarts of brandy; 1 pint of Santa Cruz rum; 2 gallons of milk; 1 lbs. white sugar.
Separate the whites of the eggs from the yolks, beat them separately with an egg-beater until the yolks are well cut up, and the whites assume a light fleecy appearance. Mix all the ingredients (except the whites of the eggs) in a large punch bowl, then let the whites float on top, and ornament with colored sugars. Cool in a tub of ice, and serve.