The Ultimate Eggnog Recipe

Party like George Washington

Egg Nog

Since the inception of this blog in 2010, we’ve repeated this eggnog recipe every year during the holiday season. It was given to me by my friend Merritt Rathje, a South Florida wine and spirits broker, and we made it together many times. This year is particularly poignant, given Merritt’s passing in February. Wherever he is, I’m sure he’s enjoying a glass (or two or three) of George Washington’s eggnog.

The Colonial period was stressful, particularly if you were a Founding Father and had to worry about being executed for treason. Perhaps that was one reason for record consumption: the average American back then drank at least eight ounces of alcohol each day, usually beginning in the morning.

In the beginning, eggnog was a simple mix of raw eggs, sugar, rum and milk or cream. Since rum was both cheap and plentiful in colonial America, the drink became a sensation. It was consumed throughout the year and frequently found a place at the breakfast table (it does have eggs in it, after all). Historical evidence suggests that it was served either hot or cold, depending on the time of day.

The recipe supposedly recreates George Washington’s version of eggnog, although the drink probably predates him by at least a century – it was popular among the aristocracy in Britain, and not just at Christmas. Yes, it’s possible to go to the supermarket and purchase pre-mixed eggnog, to which you simply add your favorite spirit. You can also find low-fat versions of the drink. But the holidays are about excess, and you’re likely to ingest more calories than you should. Why not absorb them in liquid form?

  • 1 quart cream
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pint brandy or Cognac
  • 1/2 pint rye whiskey
  • 1/4 pint dark rum
  • 1/4 pint Sherry


  1. Mix the liquor first.
  2. Separate the egg whites and yolks, and add sugar to the beaten yolks; mix well.
  3. Add the liquor mixture drop by drop at first while beating slowly; add the milk and cream and continue slowly beating everything together. Beat egg whites until stiff, and fold slowly into the mixture.
  4. Let set in a cool place for seven days, and taste frequently.

The recipe doesn’t mention nutmeg, but if you want to be authentic, buy some fresh nutmeg and a nutmeg grater and do it right. Life is but once.

Mark Spivak specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He is the author of several books on distilled spirits and the cocktail culture, as well as three novels. His first novel, Friend of the Devil, has been re-released on Amazon in print, e-book, and audio book formats.

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