Cocktail of the Month
While eggnog is traditionally served around the December holidays, it makes a delightful winter tipple during the frosty month of February. If you’d like to try something a little different than the American staple, all you need to do is look South of the border, for the Mexican version of this velvety classic cocktail – rompope.
After spending most the month of December in southern Mexico, I had the privilege of toasting Christmas Eve with my Hawaiian friend, Brad Winslow, with a glass of rompope. While most people consider eggnog a cold-weather drink, I discovered that sipping a glass of rompope as I watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean after a beautifully warm and sunny Christmas, was equally delightful as enjoying a cup in front of the fireplace on a snowy night.
Like eggnog, rompope is a dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, whipped eggs, spices, then usually spiked with an alcoholic spirit. One difference is that rompope has yellow hue, which comes from the egg yolk. Unlike eggnog, which is made from the entire egg, rompope is forged only from the yolks.
While both beverages are seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla, rompope adds a rich flavor of ground almonds, which gives it extra texture and a full-bodied, creamy cookie-like distinction.
Rompope is most often spiked with rum, but that can vary through different parts of Mexico. Sometimes aguardiente, a type of sugar cane liquor, or tequila is used. The word rompope is a derivation of the word rompon, which was used for the Spaniard version of eggnog made with rum that came to Mexico from Spain.
According to seriouseats.com, it is believed that the first rompope was brewed by nuns in the Santa Clara convent in Puebla, Mexico, in the 17th century. At the time, the Catholic Church was prominent in government and society, and convents often hosted visiting officials and religious dignitaries. Although the nuns made large quantities of rompope for guests, they had not been permitted to drink it until Sister Eduviges appealed to the mother superior. Once permission was granted, they became accustomed to the tasty drink and soon were preparing it daily. The nuns were given a ration of one glass per day.
With its rising popularity the nuns began to bottle the rompope to raise money for the convent, according to mexconnect.com. The love for rompope quickly spread throughout Mexico. The original recipe is a secret that remains with Sister Eduviges.
Mexicans typically consume rompope around the Christmas holidays, but it is also enjoyed during family celebrations. In addition to being a beverage, rompope is also used in desserts with the most common being tres leches cake.
Commercial versions of rompope are available in the Washington area with the most popular brand being Santa Clara, named after the convent where rompope originated. But for a more rewarding tipple, it’s fairly easy to whip up a batch of rompope at home. Even though it is served chilled, it will still warm your insides on a frigid winter day.
MEXICAN ROMPOPE 8 egg yolks 5 cups whole milk 1 1/2 cup sugar 1/3 cup blanched almonds, ground to a fine paste 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup gold or dark rum cinnamon sticks, for garnish In a bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy. Heat the milk over low heat, adding the sugar and cinnamon until dissolved. Add the ground almonds, stirring until smooth. Add the milk mixture to the eggs – gradually, to avoid cooking them. Pour in the rum, mix well, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve in a glass with a cinnamon stick for garnish if you desire.