What The Nog: What’s Eggnog?

What’s in eggnog?

Frothy, creamy eggnog is a festive favorite in England, Canada, and America. This winter drink consists of milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, and egg yolks. There are many versions of the drink, using alcohols like rum, brandy, whiskey, and bourbon. And, it often is flavored with everything from molasses to cinnamon to nutmeg to dried pumpkin. Now, there’s even soynog or nutnog, a version of the drink made for vegans or lactose-intolerant people. Eggnog for all!

Where did eggnog come from?

Eggnog dates back to the Elizabethan era, and perhaps came from the drink called possetPosset is an old medieval British drink made with hot milk that was curdled with wine or ale, and sometimes eggs were added to the recipe. Fun fact: Posset was also a cold and flu remedy in the middle ages.

And, just like posset inspired eggnog . . . eggnog seems to have inspired some other winter-y drinks, too. A Tom and Jerry is now a regional staple for many Midwestern Christmas celebrations. This holiday drink consists of rum, warm water or milk, beaten eggs, spices, and sugar. Would eggnog by any other name taste as sweet . . . we think so! (Want to read about more of the weirdest cocktail names, check them out here!)

What’s the nog all about?

One theory is that nog derives from the word noggin, which was a Middle English word for a type of mug for serving alcohol. The Online Etymology Dictionary says nog means “strong ale.” A third theory claims that the name is derived from a Colonial term for rum: egg-and-grog. Shortened to egg’n’grog, it then eventually became eggnog.

Well, even though that explanation may be confusing, what is clear is that . . . even the simplest pleasures still contain a bit of mystery.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign up for our Newsletter!

Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.