Eggnog 101: 5 things to know about the famous holiday tipple

Bourbon makes it sweet, dark rum turns it spicy and brandy keeps it stiff but subtle.

It’s creamy, it’s sweet, it’s a subtle coping mechanism for extended holidays with family – say what you may about eggnog, but this festive treat remains a staple year after year.

The egg-infused drink gives mulled wine a run for its money, especially when served warm during winter days. Malaysians, fret not! Eggnog is even amazing chilled, so here’s all you need to know about it, to start a new Christmas tradition.

Eggnog goes back 600 years

This creamy delight is believed to have its origins in the 14th-century posset – a drink of hot milk curdled with ale. Egg eventually found its way into the recipe. However, bear in mind milk and eggs were luxuries until American colonies came along. This is why eggnog first became a hit among aristocrats.

Thanks to a trade deal with the Caribbean, rum was the cheapest and most accessible liquor in 18th century US, when eggnog rose in popularity.

Yes, it contains egg yolk – but also liquor

Americans went on to replace rum with bourbon and whisky, and eggnog’s prominence in festive cheer was solidified. The type of liquor used can also switch up flavour profile: bourbon for a sweet dessert, dark spiced rum for a spicy kick, and cognac or brandy for a stiff but subtle nog.

Don’t be put off by the egg yolks – in fact, it’s a key ingredient in the creamy treat. You can make your own eggnog at home with whole milk, cream, vanilla, sugar, egg and liquor, finished with pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Eggnog can be incorporated into special holiday recipes, like this eggnog cake.

The first American President was a fan

Don’t just take our word for it – read the words of former President George Washington, whose love for eggnog was no secret.

“One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ 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.”

You can age eggnog

If you’re still worried about salmonella from raw egg, food science guru Alton Brown has a tip: age it!Making your eggnog a month or week before consumption allows a longer time to kill bacteria.

Not to mention, the creamy goodness only intensifies when left aside for some time. We’re just saying, there’s still time to Christmas…

Other variations exist throughout the world

Eggnog may be the winter choice in Canada and North America, but other nations have put their own twist on the beverage. For example, Rompope (made with rum or whisky) is popular in Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize, while Coquito (made with sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk) is Puerto Rico’s choice. In Venezuela and Trinidad, they drink the Ponche Crema, also sweetened with condensed or evaporated milk.

Ready to try it for yourself? Follow this simple recipe from BBC Food.

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