A Glass of Wine with You!



In the 18th Century, the Christmas season didn’t start until the 25th of December. But then it went on until the 6th of January, where it ended with a massive 12th Night Feast.

Follow the link on the picture for a fantastic article about exactly how massive a good Georgian feast might be. Suffice it to say, if we think we know anything about stuffing our faces these days, we don’t have anything on the Georgians.

These days we tend to start celebrating earlier and stop earlier. But when chocolates and turkey sandwiches start to pall, why not try bringing back some 18th Century opulence (and oddness) to your festive season with these recipes:

A Sack Posset, or what is called the Snow Posset

Boil a Chopin of Cream or Milk with Cinnamon and Nutmeg; then beat the Yolks of ten Eggs and mix them with a little cold Milk; then by Degrees mix them with the Cream; stir it on the Fire till it is scalding hot; sweeten it to your Taste; put in your Dish a Mutchkin of Sack, with some sugar and Nutmeg; set it on a Pot of boiling Water, and when the Wine is hot, let one take the Cream and another the Whites of the Eggs and pour them both in holding your Hands high, and stirring all together while it is on the Fire; when it is scalding hot, take it off, cover it, and let it stand a while before you send it to Table. The Whites must be beaten with a little Sack.

To Make a Hedge-hog.

Blanch and beat a Pound of Almonds very fine, with a Spoonful of Sack or Orange-flower Water, to keep them from oiling; make it into a stiff Paste, then beat six Eggs and put two Whites, sweeten it with fine sugar, then put in half a Mutchkin of Cream and a Quarter of a Pound of beat Butter, set it on your Stove and keep it stirring til it is stiff, that you make it into the Shape of a Hedge-hog, then stick it full of blanched Almonds cut in Straws; set them on it like the Bristles, with two Currants plump’d for Eyes; then place it in the Middle of the Dish, and boil some Cream; put in it the Youlks of two Eggs, and sweeten it to your Taste; put it on a slow Fire and when it is scalding hot take it off; you must keep it stirring all the while; when it is cold put it about the Hedge-hog.

Apricock Chips

Slice the Apricocks the long Way, but not pare them; take their Weight of double refined sugar, boil it to a thin Candy, put in the Apricocks and let them stand on the Fire till they are scalding hot; let them ly a Night in the Liquor, then lay them on thin Plates and set them in the Sun to dry.

To Make Shrub

Take five English Gallons of Rum, three Chopins of Orange and Lemon juice, and four Pounds of double refined Sugar; mix all together, but first pare the Rind of some of the Lemons and Oranges, and let them infuse in the Rum for six Hours: Let all run through a Jelly bag, then cask it till it is fine, and bottle it.

All these recipes are from “A New and Easy Method of Cookery” by Elizabeth Cleland, published in 1755.

Or, if that’s a little too much in one go, here is a modern recipe for Lemon Shrub from the wonderful “Lobscouse and Spotted Dog” by Ann Grossman and Lisa Thomas:

Lemon Shrub:

Zest of 1 Lemon,

three-quarters a cup of sugar

Half a cup of lemon juice,

2 cups of rum

Combine all the ingredients, stir well, bottle and set aside in a cool place. It will be ready to drink after about a week.

To serve, mix 2-3 parts boiling water to 1 part Shrub.

You could always add some orange zest and juice, in honour of Elizabeth Cleland’s recipe. I think I’m going to have a go with this one myself 🙂

Oh, and

1 Mutchkin = 16.1 fluid ounces

1 Chopin = 32.1 fl oz


Advent Calendar Giveaway!

I have an ebook to give away. Your choice of the ebook of Captain’s Surrender, or Hidden Conflict to the first person to tell me what spice I’m thinking of adding to my shrub when I make it.

37 Responses

  1. Mutchkin and Chopin will be the names of my next hamsters!

    Great recipes – reminds me of the more olde stuff in my mum’s ancient version of Mrs Beeton. The shrub sounds delicious – rum and lemonade! Might give it a try, too. I’d put cinnamon in it, but then I put cinnamon in practically everything LOL

    • *g* That would be seriously cute. Apparently Chopin is pronounced to rhyme with “slop in”, though. I don’t know if that makes a difference?

      I’m definitely going to try the shrub. Without the orange juice it’s essentially the same recipe as sailor’s grog, which I have tried and loved. I bet it would be good mulled 🙂

      • ‘slop in’? LOL that’s much less cute! I was going to ask which came first, the measurement or the composer, but it sounds like they’re unrelated *g*

  2. I like the sound of shrub – Aubrey drinks that, doesn’t he?

    I wondered if that top picture was the groaning Christmas day board chez Beecroft?


  3. A lemon shrub sounds similar to a rum sling. Add some mint? Though cinnamon could be good, too. Thank you for the conversions, because I’d be lost without measuring cups. 😀

    • Ah, I haven’t heard of a rum sling, but adding mint sounds as though it might make something a bit like Pimms, which is always welcome 🙂

      I had to really hunt for those conversions, so I’m glad they’ll come in handy!

  4. Oh you said spice. Sorry. It’s too early for me.:)
    How about ginger?

  5. When I make a lemon based sauce (a la Francaise) for chicken or veal, I find that rosemary and coarse-ground black pepper go well. But if the snow is deep outside and the fireplace is roaring, it might be fun to add a pinch of curry or cumin.

    • Oh, I do like the sound of the pepper. You want something warming for a Christmas drink. I’m not a fan of rosemary myself, as I find the taste too medicinal, but curry is so wacky it might just work 🙂

      • Alex, you just sent me to sniffing through my spice cabinet. I can’t find the medicinal element in Rosemary…but then I sniffed the Taragon. That might be very exciting in the drink. A few leaves crushed and a stem of them for garnish. Taragon really zings with lemon.

        Poor Alex, you may get a tad drunk testing all of these suggestions. A Boxing Day hangover?

  6. I think nutmeg would go well in a lemon/rum drink.

  7. I’d be wary of putting a mutchkin in anything, lest someone drop a house on me. And, hey, let’s be creative – how about some Grains of Paradise in the brew?

  8. I’ve seen thyme used in lemony drinks before, though I’m not sure that’s what you’d be using…worth a try!

  9. Actually, I’d add touch of apple and cinnamon. Somehow I think that would go great with any rum drink…

    By the way, the hedgehog is the most amazing amount of awesomeness. 🙂

    • Mm, that does sound rather good 🙂 LOL! And the hedge hog is almost too cute to eat, isn’t he? I suppose it wouldn’t feel quite as cruel once he was covered in custard!

  10. Shrub. Hm. Rum. Hm. Nutmeg might be suitable.

    I suspect we’ll all have a devil of a time figuring out those measurements, Alex. 😉

  11. I must admit that fond of history as I am, I’m still very relieved that I live in the age of metric weights and measures. The chopin and the mutchkin are old Scottish measures, so even converting to Imperial is a hassle. Still, imagine the fun you could have trying to recreate the recipes by guesswork!

  12. Sounds delicious. I surfed over to the dinner site. Yikes! Talk about excess!
    You could probably feed an entire village from the leftovers from just one meal!
    I love those old-fashioned recipes. You really can find out so much about society from checking them.
    I’m also in the nutmeg group.

    • Without the orange juice and zest it’s identical to grog, which I’ve had before and really is lovely. Very easy to swig, or even quaff 🙂

      I love the old recipes too. There’s such a feeling of no nonsense confidence in them. I think the vagueness about the measurements makes it seem more as if the writer trusts the reader to know what she’s doing. Modern recipes are so foolproof!

      I’ve just heard that the giveaway isn’t until Christmas day! It’s going to be hard to keep quiet all that time 🙂

  13. The hedgehog is adorable! Great post!

  14. What a great post. The idea of that snow posset makes me want to go read Georgette Heyer.

    And Erastes google-fu is indeed mighty. *g*

    • *g* Thank you 🙂 I can’t say I fancy trying the snow posset myself, so reading Georgette Heyer sounds like a much better idea. (Hot alcoholic milkshake?)

      It is, I wish I had the skill 🙂

  15. I hate these Advent posts. Really. I’ve been off the internet for a couple of days and have been trying to catch up on them all in one fell swoop. Food, food, yummy delicious, exotic food!! I have gained 25 pounds just reading the recipes–and I haven’t even tried fixing any of them yet! By the time the last one has been read, I will need a fork lift to get out of my chair. Thanks a lot!!

    Kidding, of course. I wish I had nerve enough to try the hedgehog. It’s adorable. But I’d make a mess of it.

    • LOL! But think of the wonderful research opportunities, particularly if it meant getting gout on top of everything 🙂

      I really want to try the hedgehog. I think it sounds as though it would be lovely – very marzipan like but without that artificial bitter-almond taste that they always include in the commercial stuff. But the rest of my family won’t eat nuts, and it seems like too much to do just for me.

      • Ow! Ow! Ow! I’ve had gout twice! Omigod it was the worst pain I have ever known and hit without warning. It doesn’t really have anything to do with riotous living and alcohol. I don’t go anywhere or do anything and I have a glass of Kahlua and cream about every five years. But lemme tell you, while you’ve got it you don’t care if you live or die. I used to think it was funny.

    • Oh, I didn’t know that anyone still got gout. I’m very sorry! I did read that it was not the matter of amusement that it is sometimes shown as, but was in fact excruciatingly painful. I’m kind of sorry that you had to learn that from experience, though. It’s like this frozen shoulder – I thought it sounded quite cute before I had it, and it’s turning out to be the most painful, most debilitating thing that ever happened to me. So much for cute names of illnesses!

      • I didn’t know they did either, until I got it. It’s caused by uric acid crystals gathering in a joint to have a convention. Big toe is most common, but it can strike in the joints of the elbows, hands, knees, and feet and, I suppose, anywhere it feels like. Since we all write about men (more often affected) in the past when it was common, would an informational post about it sometime be helpful? I know we wouldn’t subject our heroes to it, but the grouchy landowner or severe father or less-than-honorable judge? Anyway, if anybody wants to know I can post about it later. Maybe it’s enough to say it hurts like hell. Like a frozen shoulder. How is that, btw?

    • Ooh, I think an article about what gout really feels like would be a brilliant thing. I have a character who pretends to have it in order to get out of social engagements that he doesn’t want to attend, and by the sound of it he’s even less convincing about it than I thought!

      The frozen shoulder aches all the time and my arm aches down to the wrist, and it aches across my back to the shoulderblade. But that’s just the default state. If you make an incautious movement (such as trying to stop a glass falling off a shelf, or put on your hat without thinking) you get a white hot, scouring, totally incapacitating pain through the shoulder joint that leaves you unable to do anything but curl into a ball and scream. When the freezing has got as bad as it’s going to get, I’m told that the pain slowly goes away, but I’m not there yet, unfortunately.

  16. I just thought — will this advent calendar be archived so anybody who wants to reread them can do so? I assume it will be, but thought I’d ask.

    • I presume it will stay in the archives of the blog as any other series of posts would do. The posts have all been tagged ‘Advent Calendar’, so you’d only have to click on that tag to see a list of them all in future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: