'Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la and all that jazz.
We're guessing whoever came up with that little ditty was
rosy-cheeked and clutching a generous mug of foamy, frothy,
The name dates back to the late 18th century, although there's no consensus on how it came about. The "egg" part at least is self-explanatory, but there are a few possible explanations of "nog". In 17th-century England the word described a type of strong beer, while the word "noggin" referred to a small mug or quantity of liquor.
Eggnog, with its combination of egg, dairy, alcohol and spices, is a variation on a couple of other English concoctions, the medieval posset (hot milk curdled with ale and spices) and caudle (warmed ale thickened with egg yolks and sweetened with honey).
It has also been known as an eggflip, referring to the method of "flipping" the mixture - rapidly pouring it from one jug to another - to mix the ingredients and make the drink foamy.
The name alone is enough to bring a smile to your face. It sounds faintly ridiculous and child-like, but make no mistake - despite its innocent milky appearance, this is one grown-up drink.
The British traditionally laced their version of eggnog with Sherry, Madeira or brandy, while across the Atlantic the Americans embraced New World hooch with gusto and added rum instead.
Other parts of the world have their own versions too. In Puerto Rico they have coquito made with coconut milk; in Mexico it's rompope. Germany has a Biersuppe, while the French have lait de poule.
Eggnog is still embedded in the festive traditions of England, Europe and the US. Although such a rich drink may seem at odds with our warmer climate, it's unexpectedly refreshing. The key is to chill it thoroughly, which offers the added benefit of giving the spices more time to infuse.
It's so satisfying that it could almost do double duty as a dessert. But in this season of festivity and celebration, it seems fitting to indulge in both. So this Christmas, we'll be washing down our pudding with a glass or two of chilled eggnog. Christmas spirit indeed.
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