‘Tis the Season for Pourhouse Eggnog
The holiday season is upon us. This means decorations, festivities, family, over-indulgence in food, but most importantly: seasonal drinks. At Pourhouse we have an entirely festive menu celebrating winter flavours and history, from flips and nogs to traditional mulled wine. These drinks are considerably older than most people realize, and while they are still enjoyed today their recipes have changed dramatically. Through the rest of the month we’ll be sharing a little drink history to pair with your tasty holiday beverages, starting with a contemporary favourite.
Eggnog, the most popular of seasonal drinks, has a clouded history likely due to its old age. It is believed to have derived from the English “posset,” a mixture of hot milk curdled with wine or ale and usually spiced that dates back to the fourteenth century. It was prescribed as a cold remedy, and over time became more a drink of leisure, adding egg to the mix and often consumed for breakfast. Milk and eggs, however, were not always easy to come by, and the drink was eventually most popular amongst the higher class. When it was brought to the American colonies, where most had their own chickens and cows, the drink gained a new popularity. However, the sherry, Madeira wine, or brandy that were traditionally added were scarce or highly taxed, so naturally the Americans added rum instead – which was about as easy and cheap to find as water at the time.
Where exactly did the name come from? This is a tricky one.
The term “eggnog” has several possible origins, one being simply a simplification of “egg and grog,” or “egg’n’grog.” Grog was watered-down rum consumed by sailors in the 17th century. The water taken on-board ships at the time spoiled over time in the sea-soaked barrels, and the rum rations (and earlier ale or wine) were used to mask the terrible taste and conversely to reduce the sailors’ intoxication levels. Citrus juice was often added to the mix to combat scurvy. Adding egg to a rum and water mixture could be described as “egg and grog,” leading eventually to the drink’s modern name.
The suffix “nog,” at one point also referred to a strong ale, which could have benefited from the addition of an egg at mealtime or wintertime, leading to “egg and nog.”
However, the more accepted origin of the name is from the word “noggin,” referring to a small wooden mug that was often used in taverns to serve drinks at tables (while drinks served near the fire were served in “tankards”). An egg drink served in a noggin could easily be compounded to “eggnog.”
Regardless of the origins, eggnog as we know it today became a staple of American drinking culture, particularly in the colder months due to the drink’s hearty nature. It was often consumed in a punch style, with copious amounts of sugar, cream, and booze, while being left out at room temperature for days. Making such a drink in warmer weather would have made for faster (or more unbearable) spoilage, which is likely another reason it became a winter drink. Everyone had a good recipe, including George Washington (a particularly boozy one), and by the mid 19th century when Jerry Thomas published his fundamental cocktail book, “How To Mix Drinks,” Eggnog had become optionally a single-serving drink.
The Pourhouse rendition of the traditional nog is a simplification of the Jerry Thomas single-serving recipe, containing slightly less liquor and considerably less milk. Thicken some Jamaican rum with whole egg and cream, add a little sugar to balance and a little nutmeg for spice and you have a simple and delicious holiday sipper. If you’re feeling adventurous, also try our more hearty version, The Fenster Flip (it’ll flip ‘ya), containing not just dark rum, but also Spanish brandy and Booker’s bourbon.
Come down and share in the tradition.