"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Friday, December 23, 2011

George Washington’s Eggnog: The Truth Behind the Whiskey Rebellion

Everyone knew you couldn’t miss the Washington’s Christmas Extravaganza. Invites were like French military victories; hard to come by, eloquently written and delivered with fine wine and aged cheese. Men were known to say that attendance was a must because of the high brow philosophical and political discussions about liberty, freedom and English inferiority. Women, of course, saw it as an opportunity to force their husbands into wearing more than whitey tighties for the few weeks that the kids were out of school and sitting around the house. As we did further research we came to realize that the Washington Christmas Extravaganza was so popular for other reasons, let’s face it, the Washington’s make  kick ass eggnog and don’t hold back on the liquor.

In 1784, the Washington Christmas Extravaganza led to the creation of the nation’s first a capella group. In a moment of drunken revelry Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Wythe, and Benjamin Rush gathered around a table slammed their pints of eggnog and proceeded to spend the rest of the night ‘caroling’ to all of the other guests. Upon completing their especially heinous version of Silent Night; Dolly Madison asked ‘what shall I call you singing gentlemen?’ Benjamin Franklin looked left and right before replying ‘between our smooth voices and heads it’s best that we be referred to as The Barbershop Quartet.’ The name stuck and those 4 could be seen cajoling guests for years to come.

Later, in 1787 Sam Adams spent the 3-days after the party camped out on the Washington’s porch bellowing for figgy pudding. His stalwart behavior earned him some lines in the now popularized song ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’. He finally got his figgy pudding. It took 3-days for Jefferson to ride home to Monticello and return with figs from his store houses.
While these past stories seem light hearted and comical. The Washington Christmas Extravaganza of 1790 was one of the most politically defining moments in the nation’s young history. It was the first time Alexander Hamilton was invited and he was nervous. He spent the morning at home studying. Studying anything he could think of to prepare himself for the political discussion of the night. He committed the Articles of Confederation to memory in case anyone wanted to draw from the past and even memorized the order in which the 56-signers signed the Declaration of Independence. No one warned Hamilton of the shitshow that would ensue once he arrived.

Upon knocking on the door, Hamilton knew he was in for it. George himself answered and said there was something he would like to talk to him about. Washington promptly took Hamilton to the kitchen and forced Hamilton to chug a pint of egg nog. ‘Too much rum?’ Washington asked.  ‘More rye whiskey?’ Hamilton responded that it was perfect. Washington patted him on the back, said ‘It always is, enjoy the party!’ and disappeared into the masses of political elites, frosted sugar cookies and tacky Christmas sweaters. (Our artists did a rendering of the recipe and came up with the following historically based photo of Washington's Egg Nog)

Hamilton just couldn’t hold back. Before he knew it he was 5 cups of eggnog deep and talking up a storm. That’s when it struck him. An idea on how to fill the nation’s coffers, he tracked down Washington who was locked in a flip cup duel with Aaron Burr. Everyone knew that this was an annual bet that ended in the loser streaking around the house. The ladies also knew that Washington had never lost as they had never been privy to see his privies running around the house. Hamilton, of course, was a noob and thought it to be a regular duel. He ran up to the table and pushed all the cups aside just as Burr was about to demolish Washington. As Burr protested the distraction, Hamilton began blathering about ways to make money for the nation. To the joy of the gathered crowd Washington said ‘more money = more eggnog. Tell me more’ Hamilton then proceeded to lay out his plan to tax whiskey.

A very drunk George Washington responded ‘Rye not’ Hamilton initially heard ‘why not?’ and took this response to be positive as he thought that he was given the go ahead to introduce the new whiskey tax. He then moved to discussing how they would collect the tax at market so that they didn’t have to track down each distillery. He did note that it would be hard to determine if they had made their whiskey from rye or corn. They simply had to implement a tasting regime and charge rye whiskey at a higher rate due to its higher quality. Washington reiterated. ‘Rye not! You shall have your whiskey tax, but not on rye.’ As a Christmas Extravaganza noob Hamilton was unaware of the fact that Washington ran a rye whiskey distillery. Hamilton quickly got the message and the crowd rejoiced. Burr, of course, never forgave him for interrupting the duel. After the quick respite Washington handily embarrassed Burr who was forced, again, to run naked around Mount Vernon.

As we all know, the general public didn’t meet Hamilton’s idea with as much excitement. Our hope this Christmas is to tame the Whiskey Rebellion ghosts of Christmas past. Take this recipe and enjoy your holidays! Merry Christmas from Lost and Founders, this one’s on George Washington.

2 cups brandy
1 cup rye whiskey
1 cup dark Jamaica rum
1/2 cup cream sherry
8 extra large eggs
10 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 quart milk
1 quart heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick

Mix liquors first in a separate container. Separate yolks and whites into two large mixing bowls. Blanchir egg yolks (beat adding in sugar until the mixture turns a light yellow). Add liquor slowly to egg yolk mixture, continuing to beat (mixture will turn brown) until well incorporated. Add milk and cream simultaneously, slowly beating the mixture. Set aside.
Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into the alcohol mixture. Add nutmeg and cinnamon stick, and stir well to incorporate. Cover mixture in an airtight container.
Allow egg nog to cure undisturbed for several days (4-7) in the coldest part of the refrigerator, or outside in a very cold (below 40 degrees) place. The mixture will separate as it cures. This is OK. Just be sure to re-incorporate mixture before serving cold.

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