Written by Daniel Puma
During the holiday season, we see certain foods and drinks that don’t normally show up in restaurants and bars any other time of year. That’s part of what makes these particular foods and drinks associated with the holidays so special. Their exclusivity to the season helps us get excited and geared up to enjoy them each year.
We have picked a handful of iconic holiday beverages for you to recreate. While you may find exquisite renditions of these at a bar or restaurant, why leave the comfort of your home if you can make something just as good, if not more delicious.
The exact origins of eggnog are up for debate, but most tend to agree the beverage is a derivative of a medieval British concoction – posset. Over the centuries, eggnog took shape and became associated with the holidays in 1700s America. The colonies had a plentiful stock of cows and chickens, resulting in an abundance of milk and eggs. The drink was popular enough that George Washington even wrote down his own recipe for eggnog. The origins of the name are still a bit murky, but by the late 1800s, the name eggnog was solidified.
Eggnog is a mixture of eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla, alcohol and some freshly grated spices. Countries from many parts of the world have their own versions of eggnog. Most variations center on what alcohol and milk options they use. In the U.S., we tend to see eggnog mixed with either bourbon, rum or brandy.
If alcohol doesn’t strike your fancy, eggnog can also be made without a potent potable. Simply leave it out of any recipe and taste for adjustments such as additional sweetener or vanilla.
Wassail, a hot mulled cider, also comes from medieval England. Wassail was traditionally consumed on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night. Wassailing is the tradition of going room to room or house to house offering drinks from the wassail bowl along with cheers, toasts and songs.
Wassail bowls became very intricate, some coated in silver and large enough to hold 10 gallons of the warm beverage. The tradition continued to develop as people creating a carol to sing while serving the drink.
Wassail combines apple cider, spices and sometimes alcohol. The mixture is slowly heated, allowing the spices to steep and impart flavor into the rest of the beverage. Recipes vary drastically between households, but these tend to be the base ingredients. Variations see the inclusion of orange juice or cranberry juice.
The alcohol in this recipe can easily be left out and is purely optional for those who wish to imbibe in some wassail with a little more potency.
When American colonists began importing molasses, distilleries began popping up in the Northeast. Rum became the go-to alcohol for many colonists and the spirit started showing up in toddies, an English drink made from sugar, water and spices.
The drink became closely associated with the holiday season due to its warming properties on a cold winter’s day. The spices invoke traditional flavors surrounding the holidays while the distilled spirit brings a warm numbing effect. Add in the richness from the butter and the temperature of the drink, and you’ve got yourself a drink that will warm both your body and soul. Hot Buttered Rum is comfort food in a cup.