Eggnog | Photo by Meredith

Americans love their nog -- we guzzle around 15 million gallons of it every winter (and that's not even counting the eggnog creamers, coffees, cocktails, and desserts we're consuming). But we can't take credit for inventing it. Historians have traced eggnog's roots back to 14th-century England, when men would sip a hot cocktail called posset. It was originally made with warm milk, ale (or sherry), and various spices. It didn't include eggs until several years later, when, because milk and eggs were so costly, the drink was a treat only for the wealthy.

By the 1700s, eggnog was common all over Europe and in America. Most American colonists produced their own milk and eggs. And the sherry was replaced with rum, which was less expensive. It's said that George Washington whipped up his own version for holiday visitors to Mount Vernon, and he wasn't shy with the sauce. Washington's recipe included a blend of whiskey, rum, and sherry, and was rumored to be so stiff that only the most courageous dared to try it.

As for the name's origins, no one is certain. Some claim that eggnog is a mash-up of egg and grog, an old English term for a drink made with rum. Others believe nog was 17th-century slang for a strong beer. But most experts agree that nog comes from noggin, a small wooden mug used to serve drinks in English taverns. Today's eggnog purists debate whether the drink is best in a mug or a punch bowl, hot or cold, and spiked with rum or whiskey. But all nog lovers agree that the holidays just aren't the holidays without it. Give this top-rated eggnog recipe a try.


Love eggnog? Check out 35 ways to feed your eggnog obsession, plus get eggnog recipes with and without alcohol.

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