Espresso Eggnog

Posted: December 26, 2006 in Cocktails, Coffee

For this installment, I will tackle a holiday drink: eggnog – with coffee, of course!

Now, I’ve tried to resist the temptation of this rather festive drink, as I’m not too fond of its heaviness with all that cream. And with so many versions of eggnog out there, it’s hard to try them all without getting sick from the intake of cream and, for that matter, raw eggs.

But eggnog is a holiday tradition that goes too far back to ignore. Of course, mixology wouldn’t be complete without a little trip down memory lane, so… let’s take a look at the history of eggnog and how it came about.

The History

Eggnog had its start in the Middle Ages as an English drink known as a “posset,” a hot beverage of sweetened, spiced milk curdled with ale or wine. A variation on the posset, the “caudle,” was a similar concoction of warm spiced ale or wine, sweetened and thickened with bread, grain, or eggs. These drinks were not only enjoyed during the holiday season but were thought to be helpful in curing colds and fortifying one’s health. It is for this reason, perhaps, that some historians suggest that the word “coddle” (to comfort or pamper) is derived from “caudle.”

By the late 1700s, the earliest versions of eggnog as we know it were being created. It was a drink of the upper class; after all, eggs, milk, and even brandy weren’t readily available to the average Londoner at the time, and there was no refrigeration. In colonial America, however, eggnog became very popular, as dairy was plentiful, and so was rum. Rum came in from the Caribbean, and it was far more affordable than brandy, which had a heavy tax on it.

George Washington, the legendary first president of the US, is said to have been quite proud of his personal recipe for a powerful “dry sack posset.” The recipe called for a combination of eggs, milk, cream, sugar, brandy, rye whiskey, rum, and sherry. It was then set aside in a cool place for a few days, during which the recipe directs to “taste frequently.” Fortunately, it seems the alcohol had the effect of delaying the spoilage of the other ingredients.

Before long, Washington’s potent recipe became part of US military tradition. During the Christmas season of 1826, a group of young cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point dared to sneak the ingredients for a spiked eggnog into the Academy, in the name of holiday celebration. At first, they were successful in avoiding detection, but rumors of their plan had reached the ears of the superintendent, and officers were sent to check on the cadets. What followed is the not-so-famous “Eggnog Riot.” Jefferson Davis, the future president of the Confederate States of America, was among the instigators. At the end of it all, six cadets resigned, nineteen cadets were court martialed, and one was charged with attempted murder.

It wasn’t until the Victorian era that this drink finally gained popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. Toasting the health of one’s friends and family with a cup of eggnog became an essential part of holiday socializing in both England and America. By this time, it was being served as a cold drink, prepared in large quantities in anticipation of holiday callers.

As for how eggnog ultimately came by its name… that is a subject for debate. According to some sources, “nog” is a shortened form of the word “noggin,” which was an ancient name for a small wooden cup – hence, “eggs in a small cup.” Another source claims that “nog” is derived from an Old English word in the East Anglian dialect meaning “strong beer or ale.” Yet another source suggests that “eggnog” is a slurred abbreviation of “egg-n-grog,” “grog” being a colonial American word for rum. In England, it is also called “egg flip.”

The Drink

Whatever you may call it, the basic recipe for eggnog is generally the same – eggs beaten with sugar, milk or cream, and a spirit. However, there are many variations of the recipe found around the world.

In Puerto Rico, the drink is called coquito, and the recipe calls for rum combined with fresh coconut juice or coconut milk. Mexico’s version is called rompope. Reputed to have been invented in the convent of Santa Clara, it is heavily dosed with Mexican cinnamon and rum and is sipped like a liqueur. In Peru, biblia con pisco is made with a Peruvian pomace brandy called pisco.

Meanwhile, in Germany, they serve biersuppe, a drink made with ale with the consistency of soup, and eierlikoer, which combines egg yolks with brandy, cognac, and/or grain alcohol.

Naturally, there are also versions that include coffee, which is why we’re talking about eggnog in the first place! I have heard of eggnog lattes, but I’m not convinced with the beverage; and buying pre-packaged eggnog, although it is convenient, takes the fun out of it all. So here’s a recipe that combines the best of both worlds, espresso and a homemade eggnog.

Classic Eggnog with a Twist – The Recipe

Glass: Wine glasses will do nicely for this drink. We’re using a Riedel Chardonnay glass in this how to.

The ingredients:
2 large eggs
3oz Demerrera sugar
1/4 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg
2oz brandy
1oz spiced rum
8oz whole milk
2oz of cream
2oz of espresso
Cinnamon sticks for garnish.
Ice (optional)

Step by Step

In this step by step method, we’re skipping what is probably the most important step – chilling the mixture before serving – truth is, we couldn’t wait! So we crushed up ice (smaller ice will chill a beverage faster because there’s more surface area on the ice). But I highly recommend sticking the mixture once done in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours before serving.

All the ingredients
Here’s all you need to make this drink – eggs, espresso, ground nutmeg, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cream, milk, blender, spiced rum, brandy or calvados, and wine glasses.
Eggs in the blender
First, add both eggs to the blender, and blend for two full minutes to really aerate and emulsify the eggs.
Continue Blending
At the 2 minute mark, add your sugar and keep blending for another minute. You can use this time to pull your double espresso shot.

Mixing other ingredients
Pour your 2oz cream into your 8oz of whole milk, away from the blender. We’re going to reduce the “shock” on the espresso.
Adding Espresso
Add espresso to your cream / milk mixture.
Adding Nutmeg
Add the nutmeg last, then stir the mixture vigorously for few seconds.

Adding to Blender
Add the mixture to the blender, making sure all the nutmeg gets out of the pouring pitcher.
Adding the Booze
Next, add 1 ounce of the spiced rum, and 2 ounces of the brandy to the blending pitcher.
Blend and serve!
Blend the mixture for at least another minute, then place in the fridge for 3 hours. If you’re in a rush like we were, you can crush ice first, and pour straight from the blender into your wine glasses. Enjoy!

Seeing as this is the holiday season, enjoy, drink responsibly, and always have a designated driver.

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