hist-brewing: Cordials

Bruce R. Gordon obsidian at raex.com
Mon Jun 30 09:20:36 PDT 2003

     Well, in theory I could agree, but in actual practice the 
distillation of alcohol is entirely illegal in the USA without very 
expensive and extremely difficult-to-obtain licensing. I don't know how 
they do things in Calontir, but in the Middle, where I am from, 
presentation of home-distilled products at an A+S fair isn't permitted, 
since it is illegal. So I would be unwilling to deduct points on the 
basis of maceration vs distillation.
     I would have to disagree that blending flavours is a lesser skill -
 demonstrating a knowledge of period herbs, spices, and fruits, 
blending them in a precise fashion so that no one overwhelms any of the 
others, balancing all that with sugar levels - all these 
accomplishments are at an advanced state of knowledge.
     And, for the record, I never use vodka - I've seen no 
documentation for it's use in period medicinals or cordials, while 
there is plenty of documentation to support wines and brandies. 
Everclear I don't even want to discuss.

Bruce R. Gordon
(Forester Nigel FitzMaurice - Middle Kingdom, SCA)

> On the subject of Cordials. Several of us in Calontir (SCA) have been 
> discussing that Cordials might better belong in the cooking category 
than in 
> brewing. If for no other reason than the fact that most of the 
cordials that 
> we see are someone adding some flavor to a pre-existing alcohol base. 
> It is hard to say you made a cordial when you added fruit to 
Everclear. You 
> didn't "brew" anything. Strictly speaking, you had nothing to do with 
> creation of the alcohol what so ever. That would be like saying you 
> coffee this morning when really all you did is grab a cup of coffee 
> QuickTrip and added sugar and cream. Hence you didn't make it. You 
> to taste, which isn't the same. 
> However, if you made the wine/alcohol, and then distilled the alcohol 
> the base, and then made that into a cordial, then I would be 
> I did that several years back with pineapples. I took fresh fruit, 
made that 
> into a wine. After a year of aging, I took the wine and freeze 
distilled the 
> water off. Then I added cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. . . It 
> out heavenly. Much better than any vodka/everclear based cordial. 
> At the very least, on scoring cordials in competitions, points should 
> deducted/not awarded for using an pre-made alcohol base. 
> Rory
> PS- As for the research, you are correct, cordials were medicinal 
> (basically) the Renaissance.
> PPS- This comes from a recent War (SCA) in which several people 
handed me 
> Cordials to try that they had "made."
> On Mon, 30 Jun 2003 09:43:51 -0400, Bruce R. Gordon wrote
> > Greetings
> >      I've been involved in much the same sort of research - you are 
> > correct, "cordials" as we use the term really don't start to emerge 
> > much before the 15th-16th centuries. (1st appearance of the 
> > word "cordial" in an alcoholic sense in English is in the Prologue 
> > of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales).     For what it's worth, try the 
> > link below - it's a short paper I did some years back on a 13th 
> > century concoction. There are links at the bottom of that file 
> > connecting you with a few other papers I've done on the subject. 
> > have bibliographies. The collection of papers should give you at 
> > least a sense of what's out there, and some pointers as to where to 
> > head next.
> > 
> > http://web.raex.com/~obsidian/spcwine.html
> > 
> > Bruce R. Gordon
> > 
> > > I'm doing some research on cordials during the 1200's. I've 
> > discovered that 
> > > as a drink for pleasure, cordials did not really exist but there 
> > some 
> > > drinks that were used in a medicinal capacity that could be 
> > considered cordials 
> > > now. But I have not been able to find any recipes or 
> > Could 
> > > someone please point me in the right direction?
> > > 
> > > Jim
> > > 
> > 
> > -- 
> > Ex Tenebra, Lux
> > 
> > http://web.raex.com/~obsidian/index.html
> > 
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