There are different theories about the origins of eggnog, but historians seem to agree that American colonists embraced this wintertime drink because of its rich flavor, handy ingredients and alcohol content. Today, eggnog continues to be a favorite choice during the winter months, especially at holiday events. Whether you're hosting a party or relaxing at home, you can prepare eggnog in a variety of ways, but don't forget to include cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, which are the spices commonly used in this concoction.
Native to Sri Lanka, cinnamon is the dried bark of the laurel tree. Cinnamon can be produced from many species of laurel. Today, cinnamon is still grown in Sri Lanka, but it is also grown in locations such as Brazil, Egypt, India, Java, and The West Indies. The laurel is a tropical evergreen tree and requires a low altitude with a moist, hot, tropical climate in order to produce well. Some recipes are specifically for "cinnamon eggnog."
The clove is the dried flower bud of an evergreen tree and dates back many centuries. Native to the Malucca Islands of Indonesia, cloves were a prized commodity by the Ancient Romans. The clove tree also grows in locations such as India, Brazil, Sumatra, and Jamaica. The tree can grow to 30 feet tall and won't produce flowers until it has been growing for at least five years. The "Kentucky Eggnog Spike" drink calls for seven whole cloves in its ingredient list.
Nutmeg is the seed from an evergreen tree and native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. The tree is indigenous to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and Australasia. Nutmeg is produced in many places including Malaysia, New Guinea, and Sri Lanka. Approximately 10,000 tons of nutmeg are produced a year. Many eggnog recipes call for a little nutmeg sprinkled over the top of the drink before it is served.
- Photo Credit overhead view of glass of eggnog with nutmeg image by David Smith from Fotolia.com cinnamon image by bright from Fotolia.com Cloves - close-up image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com nutmegs image by Aussiebloke from Fotolia.com