The holiday season is, for most, no time for dieting. Granted, some winter sports enthusiasts might argue they burn off those excess calories on the slopes. But, for most of us, November and December are months of indulgence. Even the most well-intentioned wellness plan goes out the snow-frosted window when elaborate cheese trays and platters of festively frosted cookies come rolling in.
And then, of course, there’s eggnog: that heavy, heady concoction that is served but once a year. Historians trace its rich roots to in thirteenth-century England, when medieval drinkers curdled hot milk in spiced ale and called it posset. Monks included eggs and figs in their version of posset, and people also toasted to good fortune and health with the drink. It gradually went out of fashion until the colonization of the Americas in the 1700s, when small-scale farms with cows and chickens aplenty gave everyday imbibers the chance to sample the drink. The cheap and plentiful rum there also made it into the recipe. Even George Washington was a proponent of the drink and made it with three different types of alcohol: rum, rye whiskey, and sherry.
Now, eggnog is an American holiday tradition on par with exchanging gifts, decorating trees, and visiting estranged relatives. Recipe variations span regional, generational, and even familial lines. Eggs or heavy cream? Brandy or rum? Nutmeg or cinnamon? Whatever your pleasure, the creamy cocktail is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser.
It should come as no surprise, then, that variations on the drink are enjoyed from Scotland to Japan. Read below for 16 versions of the holiday favorite.
Additional reporting by Emily Saladino.