This Article’s English Level: Advanced

There is a joke that you either LOVE eggnog, or you despise it. Whether you love it or you hate it, eggnog is an American Christmas tradition!

What is this drink with such a strange name? Eggnog is a sweet drink made with milk (or cream), sugar, eggs, and spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The eggs are separated into whites and yolks and the whites are whipped, which gives the drink a thick, frothy texture.

Eggnog is typically served cold and is mixed with brandy, rum, whisky, or bourbon; however, the eggnog sold in stores is usually non-alcoholic and the liquor is added by the consumer. Eggnog has also become a popular “flavor” for the holiday season. It is not uncommon to find eggnog flavored desserts, coffees, custards, and ice creams during December.

The drink originated in Europe–where brandy was traditionally used–but the early Americans avoided brandy because the taxes on brandy were so high. To avoid paying these extra fees, Americans drank their eggnog with Caribbean rum. The recipe for eggnog changed again during the Revolutionary War when the import of rum to America was reduced, so people began adding liquor that was produced in the area: whiskey and bourbon. Today the alcohol people put in their eggnog is a matter of preference, but most still associate the original liquor, brandy, with the drink.

Would you like to try eggnog? Coffee shops and restaurants throughout the United States and Canada sell eggnog during the holiday season; however, you can also make your own eggnog if you wish. The following is a simple recipe from American celebrity chef Alton Brown. Alton’s recipe uses bourbon, but you can use any of the alcohols mentioned above . . . or leave out the alcohol and have a virgin eggnog drink. (Note: some people are a little unsure about eating raw eggs. Alton Brown’s page on the Food Network also offers a recipe for eggnog using cooked eggs. Check it out!) 

Classic Eggnog Recipe


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg whites


1. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl until the color of the yolks becomes lighter. Slowly add 1/3 cup of sugar while still beating. Beat until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Add the milk, cream, bourbon (optional) and nutmeg and stir to combine.

3. Using a hand mixer (or your own very strong arms!), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the 1 tablespoon of sugar while beating and continue beating until you have formed soft peaks.

4. Add the egg whites into the mixture. Serve chilled.

We hope that you take the opportunity to try eggnog during your stay in the United States! Happy Holidays to our students!