Nordic Eggnog conjures up holiday cheer—skål!

From America to Norway and back

eggnog

Photo: MatPrat
Eggnog, the quintessential holiday drink first made popular during the colonial days of George Washington, has made its way to Norway with a splash—of aquavit!

Lori Ann Reinhall
Editor-in-chief
The Norwegian American

Eggnog is a traditional holiday drink well-known to most Americans, but did you know that the Norwegians have their own norsk variant with a good splash of aquavit?

While this drink is most popular in North America, the word “nog” is derived from Scottish and Irish Gaelic. A noggin is a cup, and with time it came to mean a small quantity of alcohol.

From the beginning, eggnog, made with rich cream, was considered to be something special. It was even believed that the drink would invite prosperity into the household for the coming year. These days, a glass or cup of eggnog is simply a tasty way to conjure up some good holiday cheer.

Eggnog is believed to have originated in 14th-century medieval England with a monastic holiday beverage called posset. It was made of milk and eggs, mixed with a good amount of ale, wine, or barley wine.

The word “eggnog” first appeared in Britain’s North American colonies in 1775, when George and Martha Washington served the drink during the Christmas holidays at his home in Mount Vernon, Va. Washington’s recipe, which has been preserved, was lusciously rich and sweet: for each egg used, an entire tablespoon of sugar was added.

The rest is history, as Americans have never stopped drinking eggnog during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Bottoms up with a cup o’ holiday cheer!

NORDIC Eggnog
Adapted from MATPRAT
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¼ tsp. table salt
  • ½ cup aquavit
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Grated nutmeg for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth. Set aside. Bring the milk and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly.
  2. Once the milk is simmering, slowly pour it into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly as you do so. Return the mixture to the saucepan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until it reaches a temperature of 160° to 165°, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Add aquavit and vanilla extract. Chill for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. When you are ready to serve, whip the cream to soft peaks and whisk the whipped cream into the chilled eggnog mixture. Top with grated nutmeg and enjoy!

Note: Traditionally, eggnog was often served warm, but these days most of us prefer a refreshing chilled version.

This recipe was kitchen-tested by Taste of Norway Editor Kristi Bissell.

This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.