Fall is upon us...

The arrival of fall (for much of the Northern Hemisphere, anyway) equates to the arrival of serious reading weather. After all, what's better than curling up with a good book and a roaring fire when it's cold and blustery outside? Well I'll tell you what: curling up with a good book, a roaring fire and a tasty mug of hippocras.

Since I've received no reports of anyone sickening or, heaven forbid, dying as a direct result (notice I said 'direct') of trying my recent recipe for Lamb's Wool, I'll go out on a limb and offer you some vague directions on making hippocras.

Historical Fiction fanatics, such as myself, are used to reading references to hippocras in just about every medieval dining scene. But for those who have never heard of such a thing, let me assure you that no actual hippos are harmed in the making of this beverage. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Hippocras was a cordial made from wine and spices and could be served either hot or cold. The word itself means "wine of Hippocrates," who is considered the father of medicine. So we know the drink was floating around Ancient Greece. The spices used in the drink were very expensive and hard to come by in Medieval Europe, so the drink was pretty much limited to the royal and wealthy.

The following recipe is the most commonly reprinted these days and comes from The English Housewife, a book written by Gervase Markham and first published in 1615 (!). Here the recipe - notes in margins are mine, of course:

1 Gallon of Wine 4 oz Ginger
1 1/2 oz Cracked, Whole Nutmeg (nutmeg is often substituted for mace...the spice mace, not the spray. Ha.)
1/4 oz Cracked, Whole Cloves 4 lbs of Sugar (I'm laughing as I'm typing this...4 lbs...seriously?)

"Take a gallon of claret or white wine , and put therein four ounces of ginger, an ounce and a half of nutmegs, of cloves one quarter, of sugar four pound; let all this stand together in a pot at least twelve hours, and put it into a clean bag made for this purpose, so that the wine may come with good leisure from the spices."

The bag they are referring to, by the way, is just clean cloth for filtering out the chunks of spices.

So if anyone is willing brave sugar poisoning and try this one out, report back and let us know how it tastes. I thought it sounded a bit like grog, which I made the mistake of trying while I was in Prague and just about lost my lunch with the vile, vile taste of it. But I don't recall grog having any sweetness, so perhaps this is quite different.

To your health!


  1. Hasn't anyone made it yet? I wanna hear how it tastes!

  2. They all think I'm trying to do them in (the cowards), ha ha. Looks like I'll have to try this one myself. Someone has to take one for the team, right?


Fire away!