hist-brewing: Cordial making information request

Crystal A. Isaac xtal at sigenetics.com
Tue Aug 22 10:33:20 PDT 2000


First thing I need to say to you Alex, is please read the following message
in the most gentle tone you can. I am not falling like an anvil on your
head, I'm trying to warn you.

The second thing I need to say is, cordials are fun, tasty and easy to make.
They are undoubtedly the most popular alcoholic drink in the SCA (I've
assumed you mean SCA A&S competitions, did you perhaps intended to send this
to the SCA Brew List rather than the general Historical Brewing List? I've
cc'd this reply to the SCA list in hopes someone can prove me wrong about
the third thing.)

The third thing is the
Crystal's-opinions-falling-on-a-newbie-like-an-anvilgram part. Cordials (I
assume you mean something like fruit/spice soaked in vodka, fruit removed
and the flavored vodka aged before drinking) are not appropriate to the
times of history the SCA covers (about 500CE {fall of Rome} to about 1600CE
{end of the English renaissance}). I am sorry about this, but it's true.
I've been trying to document fruit-in-brandy for some time and the earliest
reference I can find in the early 1700's. Near as I can tell wine was
expensive and brandy was very expensive and technologically advanced. To put
something cheap like fruit into brandy just did not occur to them.

That said, you can make "period-oid" cordials by using period ingredients.

Spiced wine (hippocras) is appropriate to all times covered by the SCA, and
spiced brandy is good for the later time periods, particularly if you are
German. Check your local college library for a copy of Arnald of Villanova
(1235-1311)'s book, _The Earliest Printed Book on Wine_. Translated by Henry
E. Sigerist, M.D.. Published by Schuman’s, New York, 1943. (This is a
translation of the 1478 German edition.) There are many, many spiced wine
recipes, normally there is at least one in every medieval and renaissance
cookery book.

There is even teeny bit of documentation for fruit-flavored wine:
Castelvetro, Giacomo (1546-1616). _Brieve racconto di tutte le radici, di
tutte l'herb et di tutti i frutti, che crudi o cotti in Italia si mangiano_.
Written circa 1614. Translated by Riley, Gillian. _The Fruit, Herbs &
Vegetables of Italy_. Published by Viking Penguin Inc., New York. Page 108
"Peaches

.they are steeped in good wine, which is supposed to draw out the harmful
qualities. I very much doubt that these exist; I am sure that it is gluttony
rather than hygiene that accounts for this practice. Peaches certainly taste
much better with wine, and I notice that nobody ever throws away the wine
that they have soaked in, or comes to any harm from drinking it."

If you would like more information on spiced wines, please write to me and
I'll send you some sources.

Whether or not you local judges consider cordials to be acceptable in A&S
competitions is something you will need to find out on a local level. For an
A&S competition, I would list *every* ingredient I used and the process I
used to make the beverage. If possible I would include a period recipe that
I based the beverage on.

Oh, and on your other question, I'd say to stay away from coffee, nutmeats,
garlic and other items containing oils if you want to make a drinkable
cordial. I would never use any fruit that isn't perfect.

xtal
aka, Crystal of the Westermark


--------
Crystal A. Isaac
"The mark of a truly great mind isn't whether you're right or wrong. It's
how well you can weasel out of a jam." -- Cecil Adams, author of The
Straight Dope

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-hist-brewing at rt.com [mailto:owner-hist-brewing at rt.com]On
Behalf Of Fenrix Wolf
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 9:46 AM
To: hist-brewing at pbm.com
Subject: hist-brewing: Cordial making information request


I have recently gotten into making cordials and was wondering if someone
could point me towards the particulars about documenting cordials for A&S
competitions.  Also does any one have any recipes that they have tried and
had success with or alternately learned what not to put into a cordial if
you want it drinkable?  I appreciate any help that you can lend.

In Service,
Alex Soldner


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