With the holidays coming around the corner (quicker than we think), I can’t help but think of all the things that make the holiday season merry and bright. You’ve got the decorations, the songs, the bright lights, the holiday traditions, and the food.
Eggnog blends right into the holiday atmosphere. To be frank, I’ve never actually seen it any other time of the year.
It is believed that this seasonal drink began in Europe as early as the 13th century. Medieval monks in Britain were known to drink something called, “posset,” which was a warm ale punch with eggs and figs. Over time, it is possible that this drink merged with the various milk and wine punches often served at social gatherings.
By the 17th century, sherry became the primary ingredient. This now eggy beverage became popularized as a toast to one’s health and prosperity. The aristocracy primarily consumed it because milk, eggs, and sherry were scarce commodities in Europe at this time.
Then it came to the American colonies, taking on a whole new taste and popularity. American colonists were able to obtain rum from the Caribbean, which was considerably less expensive than the brandy, other liquors, and wine shipped from England. And that is how we know eggnog today. Or as I like to call it, the holiday party drink.
With all that history, it may seem confusing to those who’ve never had it. What does eggnog taste like? To keep it short, it has a sweet flavor that can be resembled to a few different things. I know, that sounds super vague. But I’ll get more into detail below.
What is Eggnog?
Eggnog is essentially a mixture of beaten egg yolk and cream with milk and sugar. Both the egg yolks and egg white are whipped. To make it the adult version (aka the better version) you can add rum, or even whiskey. For extra flavoring, you can add in cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
Eggnog is served chilled and you can either make a homemade version or find it in the dairy aisle of the grocery store.
The drink is also common in countries all over the world, with each having their own versions. For example, in Mexico, eggnog, or Rompope, features Mexican cinnamon, vanilla, and either rum or grain alcohol. In Puerto Rico, they added coconut juice or milk, and sometimes took out the eggs to call it coquito. In Peru, it’s made with Peruvian brandy.
Essentially, eggnog has one specific cream base, and the rest is left up to creativity.
What Does Eggnog Taste Like?
The flavor of eggnog can be compared to melted ice cream, smooth and sweet. Eggnog has also been compared to a custard ice cream. The consistency is creamy and rich.
If you choose to add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to your drink, you’ll also get a spicy overtone.
However, when alcohol is added to the drink, you’ll get a more complex flavor. Something that’s heavy and warm.
Store-Bought vs. Homemade Eggnog
Yes, you have the option to drink both a store-bought version or make your own, and depending on the person, they may prefer one over the other. Although similar, homemade may bring some differences to the table.
For starters, store-bought eggnog will not come with alcohol already mixed in. Of course, this is an easy fix and you can just simply add in the alcohol when you get home.
However, store-bought eggnog also comes with thickeners and stabilizers as well as artificial colors and flavors. Some brands are also sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. With that being said, some may not like the “fake” quality of store-bought.
Homemade eggnog, on the other hand, doesn’t include the additives. But it will contain the same calories and fat.
To solve this, you can switch things up by using low fat dairy products and going lighter on the sugar. You can also use low calorie flavorings such as orange zest, vanilla, or cinnamon.
What Tastes Similar to Eggnog?
As mentioned before, eggnog has a similar taste to that of custard ice cream or defrosted ice cream. Since it does have the same consistency, you would be eating/drinking it the same way. (You can even add a little booze in it to spice things up).
Another small resemblance to the taste of eggnog is bubblegum, but that can also be a stretch. For some people, it tastes like bubblegum flavored whole milk.
A lighter calorie drink that will taste similar is vanilla chai tea. This holiday alternative is great for those looking to knock some calories but also can’t drink dairy.
Is there a Vegan Alternative to Eggnog?
If you still want to have the taste of eggnog but want a non-dairy or vegan version, consider purchasing soy nog or rice nog. Basically, almost any dairy-free nog is a vegan option, which is great if you still want to get into the holiday spirit without losing the holiday drink!
It’s super easy to make at home if you can’t find a vegan version in stores. A quick example of how to make it would include the ingredients of:
- Coconut milk
- Maple syrup
- Ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- Pure vanilla extract
These ingredients together will create a sweet, creamy and delicious “eggnog” that tastes very similar, if not better, to the real thing. Plus, it eliminates the use of raw, easily expired foods that can cause not so cheerful spirits during a super cheering holiday.
Can You Have Non-Alcoholic Eggnog?
Although I don’t prefer it, it is possible to drink eggnog without alcohol. This is great for those looking for a booze-free night, or for the kids who want to join the party.
You can buy only non-alcoholic eggnog at the grocery store. Those are pasteurized so they’re meant to last longer. If you make your alcohol-free eggnog, it’s best to finish it within two to three days, since you’re playing with very perishable foods.
It’s also important to note that you’re eating whipped raw eggs, especially if it’s homemade. If you drink too much of it, there’s a chance you can get salmonella. If you add alcohol, that inhibits bacterial growth. It may not kill it completely, but it helps!
What Does Spoiled Eggnog Taste Like?
If you’ve tested your limits and waited out the eggnog in your fridge a little longer than you should have, you might run into some unpleasant tastes.
Just like expired milk, you can tell if eggnog has gone bad if it’s lumpy and has a sour and unpleasant odor. It will also lose its color from beige yellow to another hue.
However, there is something called, “aged eggnog” if the eggnog contains (a lot of) alcohol. It requires a lot of planning and is not created by accident (like accidentally leaving your eggnog in the back of your fridge).
The aged batch will taste strikingly different. The aged eggnog is rounder, smoother, and noticeably more complex, with a satisfying start-to-finish flavor. But again, and I cannot stress this enough, you’ll need a lot of alcohol to kill the bacteria.
Attempting to drink expired eggnog will not only make your tastebuds want to jump off your tongue, but you might end up with some consequences.
Eggnog made with raw, unpasteurized eggs can contain salmonella, which is a leading cause of food poisoning. Food poisoning can include upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
Eggnog with alcohol is looking pretty good, isn’t it?
But in all seriousness, just like any drink or undercooked food, be sure to drink eggnog wisely, with or without alcohol, and make sure you follow the expiration dates carefully!
Then we will all have a holly jolly good time this holiday season. Cheers!