Christmas traditions

Eggnog, Rum, and Old Doctor Reid

A 100-year-old, retired Navy doctor shares his secret recipe

Aunty Jean
3 min readDec 15, 2022

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Photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash

When I lived in Coronado, CA, I would often go next door to make sure my elderly neighbor was okay. My neighbor was a retired Navy physician, and my husband (at that time) was a Naval officer (usually away on long deployments) so we had some things in common that helped to start conversations.

Dr. Reid was 100 years old, and loved to tell me stories of his long career as a physician in the USN. He lived alone, and had someone come in to clean, but I knew that he didn’t always have the energy to cook meals, and I would often bring over some food, and sit for some conversation.

It was important to him to “give something back”, and he would treat me to artichokes fresh from his back garden. He was a stickler about proper preparation of the cynara cardunculus, and took care to present the perfectly cooked specimen plated with his homemade mayonnaise for dipping.

One day, Dr. Reid told me the story of serving on a Navy ship off the coast of Jamaica in the 1920’s. The sailors would often go into town to buy rum. He was a young man, a long way from home on Christmas Day, and fondly remembered the ship’s cook whipping up eggnog, complete with Jamaican rum, for the entire crew.

Dr. Reid told me that he was going to share his “secret recipe” for eggnog with me. I still have that recipe, in his handwriting, today.

author’s photo, Dr. Reid’s recipe

When I hosted Christmas parties, I would double the recipe, and serve the eggnog in a punchbowl. One batch of the recipe is “sufficient for 10–12 people” according to the original recipe, but at one Christmas party, a young Navy Seal picked up the punchbowl and downed the entire double batch (yup, drank right out of the punchbowl).

He wasn’t happy when I took away his car keys.

I’m a long time vegan, so this was always a recipe for my guests. I no longer make eggnog, as I really don’t think it is safe to eat raw eggs anymore. But, if you want to give it a go, here’s the complete recipe:

Ye Olde Virginia Eggnog

6 large eggs, separated, yolks and whites beaten separately

1/2 cup sugar added to yolks, while beating; 1/4 cup sugar added to egg whites after beating stiffly.

1 pint bourbon whiskey

1 oz. Meyers or Bacardi rum

2 pints half-and-half

Beat the egg yolks and sugar, add the whiskey and rum, stir in the half-and-half; fold in the stiffly beaten eggwhites.

Makes 5 pints of eggnog sufficient for 10–12 people.

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Aunty Jean

Constantly curious, dog-loving, anti-racism, politically progressive, book-loving, vegan lady. I want to keep learning every day, exploring other points of view