12/17/2013 09:15 am ET

What The Hell Is In Eggnog, Anyway? (PHOTOS)

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Eggnog is pretty much synonymous with Christmas. What other time of the year can we justify drinking something so rich, so decadent, so dessert-like as a cocktail before dinner? Eggnog's flavor and texture are so distinct that it divides people -- you either love it or hate it. Either way, if you asked us to tell you on the spot what goes into this holiday treat, our eyes would probably glaze over a little bit. What the hell is in eggnog, anyway? Eggs, probably?

We've decided to settle this once and for all, and break down what's really in an eggnog recipe. We definitely learned a few things about eggnog we didn't know before, including that George Washington had his very own recipe for the stuff (which is way boozier than any modern recipe we've come across, even Martha's).

  • 1 Egg Yolks
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    Every recipe uses a different number of egg yolks, but they are always present -- usually around 4 yolks per quart of finished eggnog.
  • 2 Sugar
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    While George Washington's original recipe calls for 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup), every recipe is a little different, depending on how sweet you want your final product to be.
  • 3 Whole Milk
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    Whole milk is the foundation of eggnog, so use the good stuff.
  • 4 Heavy Cream
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    Egg yolks and milk not rich enough for you? Never fear, eggnog contains heavy cream, as well. There are usually two parts whole milk to one part heavy cream.
  • 5 Bourbon/Rum/Cognac
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    Choice of spirit (or inclusion of it at all) usually depends on personal taste, but most eggnog recipes call for a brown spirit of some kind. It's a celebration, after all.
  • 6 Nutmeg
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    Some recipes also call for cinnamon, vanilla or other spices, but nutmeg is compulsory and it has to be freshly grated.
  • 7 And Sometimes Whipped Egg Whites
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    Most recipes include this as an optional ingredient because people get so stressed about the fact that they are technically raw. Adding whipped egg whites to your eggnog lightens it up a bit, stretches it a little further and also makes use of the whites you separated from the yolks.

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Eggnog Recipes
Eggnog Recipes