Ted Haigh is the co-founder of The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans. He is the author, most recently, of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. He traces the history of holiday cocktails back to Europe in the Middle Ages.
Caudle: Anglo-Saxon. 1300s through the 15th century. The Caudle contained wine (and later ale), raisins, sugar or honey, bread crumbs, egg yolk, grated almonds, and spices like saffron, salt, and ginger. From the word derived the term "coddle" (to comfort).
Posset: British. First made in the late 1400s. The posset was the first drink perceived as a holiday drink. Milk was heated to a boil, then mixed with wine or ale, which curdled it, egg was added, and the mixture was spiced. It was perceived as good for a cold, and general chills.
Toddy: 1700s. The Hot toddy was originally Scotch, boiling water, sugar, and fruit (apple, lemon, or orange slice pierced with cloves.) Like the Posset, the toddy was believed to help cure the cold and flu in damp, clammy, cold weather and it’s still served for that today.
Eggnog: British. As with Caudle, and Posset, Eggnog was a drink of the rich. City dwellers rarely saw milk or eggs. There was no refrigeration yet, and the farms with cows and hens belonged to the landed elite. Eggnog was mixed much as today with brandy, London Dock rum, Madeira or sherry and cream (or milk, or both), sugar, nutmeg, and eggs.
Tom & Jerry Serving Bowl
Tom & Jerry: Recipe in 2 parts:
Batter and drink.
Batter: 12 eggs, about 4 oz of dark Jamaican rum, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and to enough sugar make it a batter (about 1 lb).
For the drink: 1 Tablespoon batter, 2 to 4 oz of brandy, fill cup with boiling water, grate some nutmeg on top and serve.
Hot Buttered Rum. Pre-Prohibition version: Strong and very basic: 1 3/4 oz dark rum, 1 lump of sugar, a splash of hot water, and a “lump of butter the size of a walnut.”
Modern-day crock pot version: 2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, a pinch of salt, 2 quarts of hot water, 3 cinnamon sticks, 6 whole cloves, 2 cups of dark rum, 1 cup whipped cream, ground nutmeg to taste.