This Is Where The Flavor Of Eggnog Comes From

For many, the holidays are just not as festive without a large glass of creamy, rich eggnog. But what exactly is the thick beverage? Where does its name come from? What ingredients are in it? Look no further — we'll answer all of those questions for you.

Essentially a mix of dairy (milk and/or cream), eggs (sometimes just yolks), a sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup), spices (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon), and sometimes alcohol (typically brandy, rum, or bourbon), eggnog can be made in a variety of ways, and there are also non-dairy versions popping up now. According to Food52, the word "nog" showed up in the late 1600s, which is said to be a derivative of posset, a "hot drink of curdled milk, alcohol, and spices." Posset was originally used (at least occasionally) for medicinal purposes. An early variation of the drink is said to have been called "egg-n-grog," a name that combines a type of alcohol and the traditional vessel the drink was served in, which was then shortened to eggnog. It's traditionally made with rum.

What is eggnog?

The Kitchn states that eggnog may have come about as a way of "preserving season bounty," by combining eggs and milk (typically gathered around the summertime) with alcohol, thereby extending the shelf life of the drink through the winter. Food52 also notes that while the inherent dangers of consuming raw eggs should be acknowledged, the "presence of alcohol will pretty much kill any bacteria present," so that's definitely reassuring.

Some eggnogs are served warm. In contrast to homemade eggnog, though, HuffPost notes that most bottled eggnog does typically contain "high fructose corn syrup and thickeners such as guar gum and carrageenan," so from a health perspective, homemade is certainly preferable to store-bought.

Eggnog can also be enjoyed in a myriad of ways beyond just drinking it — in pies, as a coffee creamer, in ice cream, and in cookies. Of course, the holidays will be far different this year, but you can take some solace in the fact that at least you can certainly plan to enjoy your favorite Christmas-y drink just as always.