Eggs, milk and alcohol—these were luxuries for Europeans that suddenly became affordable when they colonized North America.
In Norfolk, Virginia people slugged back strong ales in a wooden goblet called a noggin. Over time, essentially anything you put in that mug became a ‘nog’.
Colonialists also loved drinking something called beer ‘Flips’ during the cold months. It’s a mixture of alcohol, spices, sugar, and beer in your wooden mug. Then they’d toss in a an egg for good measure. To incorporate it, they stirred it with a fiery hot poker. The molten rod would cause the egg to ‘flip’ and then it was ready to drink.
Bartenders became comfortable with the technique and by the 1790s it was common to forego the theatrics and just whip the eggs, milk, sugar, and spirits together.
The English Posset
The common spirits for a medieval “posset,”—the 1400’s version of eggnog in England—called for sherry and madeira, but in the west settlers used the more widely available rum and whiskey.
The Nog Riot
Who knew eggnog once started a riot at West Point?
It was Christmas Eve, 1826 and nine cadets—including Jefferson Davis—stockpiled barrels of booze on the dry academy grounds with plans to spike a massive batch of eggnog. Dozens of students joined in and soon they were stumbling around the halls; firing guns, stabbing furniture with bayonets, chanting obscenities, and generally wrecking the place. Repairs took over a week, and Westpoint expelled 33 students.
Now that you are fully versed in the history of this holiday drink, here’s a from-scratch recipe to get the party started. Just don’t make too much.
4 cups of whole milk
1 dozen egg yolks
4 cups cream
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
1 bottle of Ms. Better’s Batch 42 Aromatic Bitters (Available at Alambika.ca, or local boutique liquor shops)
375 ml Jamaican rum
375 ml Alberta Premium rye
100 grams vanilla bean
1 large piece cinnamon bark
Slowly simmer milk to boil with the vanilla bean and cinnamon bark. Whisk the yolks with the sugar until fluffy. Continue to whisk, adding the milk slowly. Simmer the mixture on a stove-top, stirring constantly until it thickens. Then strain out the vanilla bean and cinnamon bark. Cool, and then add the rum, whiskey, and cream. Add two ounces of aromatic bitters, according to your own tastes. When you are ready to serve, grate fresh cinnamon over the drink. V