Forester Nigel FitzMaurice

    The development of complex recreational beverages such as cordials and liqueurs has been preceeded by a long tradition of blending diverse substances in base fluids to achieve a hearty and stimulating effect. The spicing of wine is among the oldest of techniques; specific commentaries  and recipes for it can be found from early Roman Imperial times at very least. In the Middle Ages, the making of Hippocras was a well-understood industry by the 14th century. The present paper is a presentation of one such recipe, somewhat older than usual, but displaying many of the characteristics of both Hippocras and later cordials.
    The recipe in question is found in a collection known as "B. L. Additional 32085". This consists of a small quarto vellum volume whose various contents date to no later than the early years of King Edward I's reign (1272-1307). The bound leaves are mainly statutes and treatises, but contain some recipes as well. One of these recipes is the following:

 28. Ici comence coment l'en deit fere claree. Pernez de kanele, de gyngivre, de maces, les deus parties; de gilofres, nois de muge, fuyle de Inde, la tierce partie; semence de fenoyl, anys, karewi, autaunt; kardamome, squinaunte, la quarte partie; spicanardi a la meitJ de tuttes les autres choses. E metez en pudre, e puys metez la pudre en une puche, e pernez vin blaunc ou vermail e versez desus la pudre e fetes coler com lescive, si averez claree; e taunt cum plus reversez e colez la chose  avaunt colee, si averez vostre claree plus forte, e si vos n'avez pas tuz ces espices, pernez kanele e gingivre, maces, les deux parties; de gilofres e spicanardi a la meitJ de tuttes les autres choses, e metez en pudre, e colez cum devaunt est dist; si averez claree. Explicit.

A translation of this recipe from the original Anglo-Norman French is as follows:

 28. Here begin instructions for making claree. Take half a measure of cinnamon, ginger, and mace; a third of a measure of cloves, nutmeg, malabathrum; fennel, anise, and caraway seeds, in the same amount; cardamom and squinant, a fourth of a measure; and spikenard in the amount of half the quantity of al the other spices. Grind this into a powder, and then put the powder in a pouch, and take white or red wine and pour it over the powder, wring it through the cloth, and you will have claree; the more you repeat the process, the stronger your claree will be. If you do not have all these spices, take two measures of cinnamon, ginger, and mace, cloves and spikenard to half the quantity of all other ingredients; grind to a powder, and strain as described above, and you will have claree.

     This recipe is taken from Two Anglo-Norman Culinary Collections Edited from British Library Manuscripts Additional 32085 and Royal 12.C.xii, by Constance B. Hieatt and Robin F. Jones, in SPECULUM, Vol. 61, No. 4 (Oct. 1986)
    Additional supporting documentation was obtained from Renfrow, Cindy. A Sip Through Time (privately published) 3rd Printing, 1997.

Read similar papers:

An Arab Mead A focus on the third recipe in "5 Elixers", below (#108), indicating some of it's implications.
Five Arabic Elixers A short paper on several 9th century Iraqi medicinal preparations which could easily be the basis for basic cordials. This is the same formulary noted in the above paper "An Arab Mead", and contains that recipe, with the original measuring units given.
Precious Waters: A Miscellany of Early Cordials A longer paper detailing a number of 14th century English medicinal recipes that have cordial-like characteristics. Includes one very explicit recipe for Aqua Vite, with directions on how to distill it.
Sakanjubins and Oxymels A short review of these non-alcoholic preparations found throughout the Middle East. This paper is the basis for a class I teach on the topic.

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