Monday, August 19, 2013

Drinking Gin with the Wildes

Imagine it's 1893 and you have a room full of thirsty authors. As a good hostess, what would you serve? To this end, I'm composing here, a Victorian drink menu.

Victorian Lemonade

1 1/2 parts Beefeater Gin
2 part water
1/2 lemon
1/4 simple syrup
mint leaves
Garnish with a lemon wheel and serve to Speranza. Oscar Wilde's mother preferred gin to most other alcoholic beverages in the 1890s. That being said, Speranza may have also enjoyed Sloe Gin.

"London Dry" was the generic term for the dry gin that became popular during the era. They called dry gin "London Dry," regardless of where it was actually produced and flavouring your London Dry with sloe berries was popular among middle-class women.

Sloe Gin
1lb sloe berries
8oz caster sugar
1 3/4 pint gin
Prick the skin of the sloes all over before placing in a jar. Add the sugar and the gin, then seal and shake. Store in a cool dark cupboard and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for at least two months. Strain through muslin into a bottle.

This obviously takes more than an afternoon to prepare, so I might wait until she invited me to one of her salons, then bring it as a hostess gift.

Gin also became popular among military men and men who were travelling as a way of getting your daily dose of quinine, thereby warding off malaria. For writers who travelled to India or Africa, like Oscar Wilde himself, you might serve this simple drink.

Gin & Tonic
1 wineglass of gin
2 lemon slices
3 lumps sugar
ice (or iced-water)
But I'd probably want to serve Oscar Wilde absinthe because I'm like that.

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  1. My understanding is that gin was used to mask the bitter taste of quinine. Quinine was a medicine or, a 'tonic.' Hence, gin and tonic was literally gin and medicine. Kind of like "a spoonful of sugar" to help the medicine go down, but for adults. Interestingly, the tonic water you buy today still has quinine in it.

  2. Thanks for sharing.
    Although I like it,but my favourite is tea.