Eggnog season has arrived, and with Christmas right around the corner, now is the perfect time to update your restaurant’s eggnog menu. The beloved winter drink is not only a holiday tradition – it is in high consumer demand. So, grab a glass and let’s set out to learn how to serve the best cup of eggnog in town!
Let’s begin with the basics: What is eggnog? It’s a beverage traditionally concocted from whipped egg whites, beaten yolks, milk, sugar, cream, alcohol (typically rum), cinnamon and nutmeg – the quintessential Christmas spices. However, as chefs and bartenders strive to add their own signature touches to the classic drink each year, many new versions of the spiked egg-yolk-milk mixture now exist.
Eggnog Menu Possibilities
Catering to a wide variety of consumer needs and preferences, a plethora of eggnog recipes are available, including drinks made with brandy, bourbon, and other spirits, no-booze/non-alcoholic varieties, cappuccino and chocolate eggnogs, pumpkin-spiced eggnog, peanut butter eggnog, and more. There are also toasted coconut recipes that use coconut milk as a non-dairy alternative (perfect for your lactose intolerant customers), and even vegan options that are both dairy-free and egg-free, using a packet of instant vanilla pudding as a substitute.
So whether your restaurant, catering business, or other foodservice specializes in tradition or likes to boldly experiment with new palate-pleasing concoctions, the eggnog menu possibilities are endless. This means that the upcoming holiday season is brimming with opportunities for your ‘biz to stand out from the pack and become the go-to place for consumers to enjoy all things eggnog.
Did you know that December 24th, Christmas Eve Day, is also officially slated as National Eggnog Day? Boasting a longtime tradition of charming drinkers and lifting holiday spirits, let’s take a step back in time and learn about the fascinating history and trajectory of one of the world’s most classic and beloved beverages.
While its precise lineage is debated by culinary historians, the consensus is that eggnog originated in Britain in the 13th century, where it debuted as a warm, milky, ale-like punch known as a ‘posset.’ Considered a wintertime drink for British aristocracy, posset recipes evolved to include eggs, figs, and sherry. This early version was also used in toasts for good health and prosperity.
According to Babson College food history Professor Frederick Douglass Opie, when the brew was brought to the New World in the 18th century, American colonists made the drink accessible to the masses by adding affordable rum, aka “the drink of the marginalized.” Eggnog rapidly climbed the popularity charts for all classes and eventually became a holiday season fixture.
George Washington’s Epic Eggnog Recipe
Variations of the drink according to regional and personal tastes soon appeared on the horizon, i.e. a preference for whiskey over rum, however the most famous eggnog recipe was crafted by George Washington himself. Penned in his own writing, the first U.S. President’s eggnog formula read as follows:
One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.
Where did eggnog get its unusual name? The jury is still out, however some of the leading theories regarding the mystery include:
- “Nog” derives from “noggin,” meaning a small wooden cup used by colonial bartenders
- “Nog” derives from “grog,” an Old English word for strong beer and thick drinks
- The drink was first known as “egg-n-grog,” and later became eggnog
- According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first known use of eggnog was circa 1775, indicating that it was an American (not British) invention
Latin American Eggnogs
Spreading from the colonies to Latin America, Puerto Rico’s signature ‘coquito’ eggnog features the addition of coconut milk, while Mexico’s flavorful ‘rompope,’ features coconut juice, cinnamon, and vanilla. Peru’s variety, the ‘pisco,’ is made with Peruvian brandy.
Traditional Eggnog Recipe
We hope this eggnog guide for foodservice professionals is whetting your appetite for a delicious eggnog recipe and stimulating your chefs’ creative juices for concocting their own one-of-a-kind standout variety. Meanwhile, pamper your customers early this season with the following traditional eggnog recipe.
- 4 large eggs yolks & whites separated
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1/4 cup brandy or bourbon
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (plus more for optional garnishing)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites and slowly and add 1 tbsp. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Pour egg whites into a different bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until the sugar completely dissolves and the yolks lighten in color.
- Add the milk, cream, liquor, nutmeg, and salt until well combined (approximately 1 minute).
- Fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Place in an airtight glass container and refrigerate for several hours, overnight, or for days. Eggnog experts have determined that the drink tastes best when aged 1-3 weeks.
- When ready to serve, fill a martini glass or glass mug and top with grated fresh nutmeg
Eggnog Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips from the experts on how to make the best eggnog.
- To make liquor-free eggnog, add 1 tsp. of vanilla and an extra ½ cup of milk or cream to your recipe
- For thicker or creamier results, experiment with different proportions of whole milk and heavy cream, adding more cream to increase richness and body
- For the most blissful eggnog results, use fresh versus pre-ground nutmeg
- Eggnog connoisseurs confirm that aging does wonders for eggnog’s texture and taste, even if only for a short while. During that time, the protein in the eggs thickens while the distinctive egg-cream-liquor flavors bind together even more, creating a smoother and more balanced cup of nog
- For a heavenly concoction with an extra creamy dairy base, add some vanilla ice cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to your recipe
- Get inspired by the eggnog creations of others, i.e. the Charleston Spectator Hotel’s eggnog twist that adds spiced rum, tarragon, brown butter, and white chocolate; likewise, experiment with sherry and tequila eggnog treats and recipes that include French cognac, spiced almond milk, and chai syrup
- Remember to bring out your best glassware and cocktail glasses, or serve in homey mugs garnished with a sage leaf and clove
- Follow in the steps of the industry big guns, such as Starbucks, with its famous annual Eggnog Latte made from steamed eggnog, Starbuck’s signature espresso, and topped with a light dusting of ground nutmeg
- According to master mixologist and eggnog expert Richie Moe, temperature is a key ingredient for success: “The trick to eggnog is cooking it to exactly 160 degrees. That’s the point at which you’ll kill all the bacteria in there, but you won’t cause the eggs to cook too much and start to coagulate. I literally keep a thermometer in there and just watch it meticulously while I stir. As soon as it gets to 161, shut it off. ” Adhering to motto of “cook low and slow,” Moe adds that he sometimes stirs the eggs for up to one hour, maintaining that although cooking eggnog is “very intense and time consuming,” the result is well worth it.
Eggnog in a Glass: How to Make a Single Serving of Eggnog
If you and your customers can’t get enough of the holiday spirit and want to want to try your hand at making a single glass of eggnog, follow these guidelines:
- Crack one egg into a glass.
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of vanilla.
- Fill the glass with milk, stir well.
We hope you and your customers enjoy snuggling up and chugging away this holiday season as you create and indulge in the perfect cup of eggnog.