That’s how you pronounce rompope, the eggy Mexican drink that’s ever present at holidays and special occasions. The ingredients—milk, sugar, spices, egg yolks, and rum—sound as much like the makings of a cookie as they do a beverage.
So it’s no surprise that rompope pops up in pastries and on dessert menus—as an ice cream flavor, fruit topping, and cake moistener. It takes lots of egg yolks to get rompope to be its brilliant yellow color. Those yolks—aside from bequeathing their color—make for a creamy drink, smooth and velvety.
The basic building blocks are similar to eggnog (and it is often described as Mexican eggnog), though it’s made with cooked eggs—and only the yolks. Some versions are additionally thickened with nuts—usually almonds, though there are many variations (including the common and freakishly bright pink bottles colored by Mexico’s pink pine nuts, as well as chocolate, pistachio, and walnut). Like American eggnog, it’s often thought of as a holiday beverage, though that’s spread to a general cheery reputation, meaning it’s brought out for any special occasion, usually served chilled or over ice.
Versions of the drink abound in Latin America, but Puebla (birthplace of mole poblano and chiles en nogada, and a culinary center of Mexico) claims rights to the first and best version: Santa Clara brand, sold in large triangular bottles, is the original, named for the local convent whose nuns began producing the drink around 1600, after the Spanish introduced it.
There, each nun had a culinary duty, including baking Santa Clara cookies and making camote enmielado, a crystallized sweet potato candy. Another of those jobs was to make what the Spanish had called ponche de huevo, or egg punch, rechristened rompope upon arrival in the New World. Sister Eduviges was the nun with the rompope gig, and it was her perfected recipe—she added an additional ingredient that she never revealed—that made the rompope wildly popular and profitable: It raised a lot of money for the convent. The story also goes that Sister Eduviges convinced the Mother Superior that the nuns be allowed to partake of their own product—and that was when the drink really took off.
by Naomi Tomsky