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Wine Report: 'Tis the season for egg nog!


I guess I just reflexively assume that nobody likes egg nog. But I'm wrong. The subject of nog came up with a co-worker today when she enthused over the classic holiday libation. I was immediately reminded of this egg nog column I wrote in 2002, when I worked at Wine Spectator magazine and occasionally offered thoughts on cocktails and mixology:

Egg nog isn't exactly a cocktail--not in the modern sense, anyway--but it is a fairly old mixed drink. Actually more of a punch. The origins of the name are slightly mysterious, so in order to sort it all out, I asked a friend of mine, Jesse Sheidlower, an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, to give me an authoritative definition.

"Nog," he explained, "is an East Anglian dialect word for a type of strong ale brewed chiefly in Norfolk. Egg-nog is almost exclusively an American word for a drink of eggs mixed with alcohol. Originally rum, as one might expect in eighteenth-century America. The first known example of the word is from 1775."

There you have it. A pre-Declaration of Independence quaff. Older than America itself, the land of the cocktail. Venerable. George Washington probably enjoyed nog all the time.

So it's (almost) the tenth anniversary of the "nogtail" recipie I subsequently cooked up. My idea was to make it to order, in a cocktail shaker, rather than mixing up a big ol' punchbowl of the stuff.

Here's what you do. Combine 4 ounces dark rum (Not white rum!), a few squirts of simple syrup, 1 egg (Don't be afraid!), 4 ounces of milk, 2 ounces of heavy cream, and some ice in a cocktail shaker. Then shake, shake, shake — the idea is to create a nice, frothy nog. Strain into a tall glass and top with the nutmeg. Mmmm...

It's a holiday favorite, updated. Well, updated a decade ago, anyhow. I'll be shaking up several this season. You should, too!

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