As I was celebrating Christmas Eve-Eve with a glass of eggnog I wondered how long people have been drinking this stuff to celebrate the holidays.
I started my research with a book on “Colonial Christmas Cooking,” partly because it’s relevant to the season and mostly because it’s one the rabbit pulled off the shelf so I had to pick it up anyway before she ate it. Eggnog certainly seems like it could have been consumed in the 18th Century, when milky drinks like syllabub and posset enjoyed great popularity. Syllabub is a mixture of wine, sugar, spices and milk that was sometimes squirted directly from the cow to give a bubbly effect. In fact, my Christmas cookbook says the strange name of the drink derives from the town in France from which the wine was imported (Sillery) and “bub” which is an Elizabethan word for bubbly drink. Posset is a similar drink served warm.
My colonial Christmas book discusses syllabub, posset and eggnog, but the footnote for the recipe for eggnog refers to a book written in 1958. So we’ve got a lapse of a couple centuries and I need to dig a little more if I want to find early references to eggnog. (more…)