Greeks don’t do eggnog for Christmas, but why do Anglo tourists drink this yellow-cream Yuletide drink? What are the roots of it?
How did the drink and the Christmas holiday hit it off so that the concoction of eggs, milk and booze become a tradition?
Culinary historians debate the exact lineage of the drink, but most agree that eggnog originated in early medieval Britain from the ‘posset’ – a hot, milky ale. In the 13th century, monks would drink posset with eggs and figs. The word ‘nog’ comes from ‘noggin’ – a wooden cup or ‘grog’, a strong beer. However the combined term, ‘eggnog’ stuck at around the late 18th century.
It makes sense that milk, eggs and sherry – foods of the wealthy – would be saved for Christmas to toast prosperity and good health.
However, colonial Americans truly lifted the drink. It is made of ingredients available to them all year round, however they may have considered Christmas the best occasion to break out the spirits, when harvest was done.
READ MORE: Spreading Christmas cheer
The eggnog tradition hasn’t caught on with Greeks, but here is a Grecian version of the holiday drink shared with Neos Kosmos by chef Philip Vakos.
Serves: 12 to 16
6 large eggs, plus 2 yolks
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of ground mastiha
4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup of metaxa
1/4 cup of skinos mastiha liquor
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
Additional grated nutmeg for garnish
1. Combine eggs, egg yolks, sugar, mastiha and salt in a heavy pan, whisking until well-combined. Continue whisking while pouring milk in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated. Turn on burner to lowest possible heat setting. Place pan on burner and stir mixture continuously until an instant-read thermometer reaches 90°C and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be patient. This should take about 25 to 30 minutes.
2. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl to remove any accidental small cooked bits of egg. Add metaxa and mastiha liqueur, plus vanilla extract and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Pour into a glass pitcher, decanter, or container and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate this egg custard mixture to chill at least 4 hours or up to 3 days before finishing.
3. When ready to serve, pour heavy cream into a bowl and whip until it forms soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into cold custard mixture until combined.
4. Serve in chilled cups or glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.