Where is eggnog from? The history of the festive drink explained

Ever wondered where eggnog comes from?

Two glasses of eggnog next to cinnamon sticks and Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's considered a festive staple, bit it has quite the history behind it too. Keep reading to find out where is eggnog from?

From pigs in blankets and mince pies to mulled wine and hot toddies, there's plenty of food and drink we associate with the festive season. And just like many wonder why do we have Christmas trees, similar questions are asked of other Christmas traditions - including the tasty treats we consume.

Love it or hate it, eggnog is one of the festive flavours that has many scratching their heads. You might recognise it from the Starbucks Christmas menu or perhaps you've even tried it yourself, but have you ever wondered where is eggnog from?

Where is eggnog from?

The exact origins of eggnog are unknown, but it is thought that eggnog comes from a medieval drink called 'posset', which combined milk with wine or beer, cream, sugar, and egg, and thickened with anything from bread to oatmeal.

As the drink evolved into eggnog, it was reserved for the elite members of society, due to the inclusion of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, which were considered to be luxuries. The winter drink was traditionally served warm.

Two glasses of eggnog sprinkled with cinnamon

(Image credit: Getty IMages)

The name 'eggnog' combines one of the main ingredients, egg, with the wooden cup the drink was traditionally served in, called a 'nog' or 'noggin'. The name may also come from the word 'grog' which is a term used to describe alcohol - sometimes specifically rum.

The first written use of the word eggnog appeared in 1775 in a comic poem written by clergyman Jonathan Boucher:

Fog-drams i' th' morn, or (better still) egg-nogg,
At night hot-suppings, and at mid-day, grogg,
My palate can regale...

Meanwhile, the earliest connection between eggnog and Christmas comes from the Virginia Chronicle in 1793, which read: "On last Christmas Eve several gentlemen met at Northampton court-house, and spent the evening in mirth and festivity, when EGG-NOG was the principal Liquor used by the company."

Which country invented eggnog?

Eggnog originated in Britain, and it is though that as early as the 13th century monks would drink 'posset' - which at that time was made with ale and figs. It wasn't until the 17th century that sherry was added.

However, it became popular with American colonists in the 1700s and even more so during Prohibition in America, when drinking was outlawed in the United States.

Is eggnog alcoholic?

Traditionally, eggnog does include alcohol, though when the drink was first invented, it is though that it was non-alcoholic. Some sources claim that alcohol was originally added to the drink to kill any harmful bacteria in the dairy.

American colonists added rum to the drink, because it was much less expensive to obtain than other liquors shipped from England, due to it being made in the Caribbean.

Eggnog recipes:

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.