Why Is Eggnog Seasonal? Unwrapping the Holiday Drink’s History

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Every year, as the chill of winter sets in, a familiar creamy beverage makes its much-anticipated return to our grocery store shelves: Eggnog.

But why is Eggnog seasonal?

Its limited availability intrigues me every Christmas season, so I’m prompted to dive into the intriguing world of this festive drink, and here’s what I have found out.

3 Main Reasons Why Drinking Eggnog Is Seasonal

Glass of Eggnog

1. Cannot Maintain High Sales

Eggnog, sold on a seasonal basis, primarily stems from its sales pattern. Despite being a popular drink, this holiday favorite sees a dramatic drop in demand post-holidays.

“Eggnog is where where eggs, milk, nutmeg, alcohol, and holiday joy unite.” – Liquor Laboratory

Companies find it economically unviable to produce and stock Egg Nog year-long as consumer interest wanes significantly after the Christmas season.

This dip in sales influences producers to limit its availability to when the hot Eggnog demand is high – the winter months (late October) and Christmas time (since it can be served hot).

2. Traditional Holiday Season

Traditional Eggnog has become synonymous with holiday cheer, primarily present at any holiday party. Its rich history, dating back to colonial times, ties it closely to Christmas and New Year celebrations.

This historical association reinforces its seasonal presence. Serving Eggnog outside its traditional window (winter season) would be like setting off fireworks in November – it just feels out of place.

For the record, this holiday drink has its roots in medieval Britain. But Eggnog began in America from a variant of posset, a traditional British milk-based drink from the early centuries.

This drink is traditionally served at large events and is made with a mix of eggs, quart cream, quart milk, or coconut cream, sugar, and a blend of spices, resulting in a creamy concoction infused with holiday spices.

Fun Fact: At Mount Vernon, the US’s first president, George Washington, offered a beverage resembling Eggnog to his guests.

While some recipes don’t require alcohol, it’s frequently enhanced with sherry, brandy, bourbon, spiced rum, and other spirits for an added kick. So, while it can be a hot drink, it can also be boozy.

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3. Raw Eggs: Health Reasons

Another factor in Eggnog’s seasonality is its traditional recipe, with the drink consisting of dairy products, like raw eggs and milk or cream.

Concerns over salmonella and other health risks associated with milk and raw eggs make consumers and producers cautious, although pasteurized versions are available.

In 2010, microbiologists at the Rockefeller Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology conducted an experiment demonstrating that aged Eggnog is safe to consume [1].

They intentionally introduced salmonella into a dozen eggs (egg yolks and egg whites) used in an Eggnog recipe.

Remarkably, after approximately three weeks in the mix with an alcohol content, the salmonella was wholly eradicated.

But this doesn’t stop the debate about whether it’s for good health, limiting its year-long appeal and availability.

Where Can You Buy Eggnogs Year-Round?

Two Glasses of Homemade Eggnog with Cinnamon Stick

Local Dairies

Some local dairies, valuing tradition and customer demand, offer an Eggnog drink throughout the year.

These small-scale producers often use pasteurized eggs to mitigate health concerns, providing a safer yet authentic Eggnog experience.

Online Retailers

You can find a range of Eggnog products, from traditional Eggnog recipes to vegan and non-dairy, Eggnog-like drink alternatives, catering to diverse tastes and dietary needs.

Specialty Grocery Stores

These stores cater to niche markets and will likely sell seasonal beverage items outside their usual window alongside regular alcoholic drinks, like brandy, wine, or rum.

Dairy Product Brands

Certain dairy product brands, like Dean Foods, recognize the yearlong demand for Eggnog.

But these brands typically produce smaller batches, so consumers can rest assured that store-bought Eggnog brands are fresh and high-quality.

With all these reasons, it makes sense why most people opt for homemade Eggnog since they can enjoy this holiday drink, even if it’s not Christmas or New Year – regardless of the season.

“Eggnog being one that has such an emotional and nostalgic property to it.” – Jennifer Michuda, Senior Brand Manager

Additionally, it allows customization, like adding more sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and alcohol for an extra taste and kick, which started during the days of The American colonies.


Do regular stores sell Eggnog all throughout the year? 

Most regular stores do not sell Eggnog year-long due to its seasonal popularity and the challenges of maintaining fresh stock outside the holiday season [2].

Why do we only drink Eggnog during Christmas?

Eggnog’s deep-rooted association with Christmas traditions and the festive atmosphere of the holiday tradition make this ancient drink a special, seasonal treat, especially when spiked in a serving mug with alcohol like rum or strong ale.

Why is Eggnog in short supply?

The short supply of the Eggnog beverage is mainly due to its seasonal production schedule, which aligns with its peak demand during the winter holidays.

Key Takeaways

The seasonality of the Eggnog drink is deeply intertwined with the holiday traditions, economic practicality, and health considerations.

While its availability is primarily limited to the winter months, those craving this creamy drink can find it yearlong at local dairies, online retailers, specialty grocery stores, and particular dairy brands.

Remember, the festive season wouldn’t be the same without this hot-milk-like treat. So, next time you enjoy a glass of Eggnog, savor its rich history and the unique factors that make it a seasonal favorite.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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