The julep is especially popular in the Southern States, and is said to have been introduced into England by Captain Marryatt. That romance-writing seaman in his work on America, says: "I must descant a little upon the mint julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100°, one of the most delightful and insinuating potations that ever was invented, and may be drunk with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70°. There are many varieties, such as those composed of Claret, Madeira, etc., but the ingredients of the real mint julep are as follows. I learned how to make them, and succeeded pretty well." Then follows the receipt:
"Put into a tumbler about a dozen sprigs of the tender shoots of mint, upon them put a spoonful of white sugar, and equal proportions of peach and common brandy so as to fill it up one-third, or perhaps a little less. Then take rasped or pounded ice and fill up the tumbler. Epicures rub the lips of the tumbler with a piece of fresh pine apple, and the tumbler itself is very often incrusted outside with stalactites of ice. As the ice melts, you drink."
"I once," says the marine author of this receipt, of which the reader has ipsissima verba, "I once overheard two ladies talking in the next room to me, and one of them said, 'well, if I have a weakness for any one thing, it is for a mint julep !' "
This weakness of the American lady was, in the opinion of the Metropolitan Hotel barman in New York, very amiable, and proved, not only her good taste, but her good sense.
In mulls, which may be made of any kind of wine, the essential feature is the boiling. Sugar and spice, of which the nursery song tells us little girls are manufactured, are also invariably used in mulls. We give a rhymed receipt for mulled wine, not for the sake of the poetry, which is indifferent, but for that of the cookery, which is not bad.
"First, my dear madam, you must take Nine-eggs, which carefully you'll break,
Into a bowl you'll drop the white, The yolks into another by it."
Here the poet was evidently hard pressed for a rhyme.
"Let Betsy beat the whites with switch, Till they appear quite frothed and rich; Another hand the yolks must beat With sugar, which will make them sweet."
An ordinary effect of sugar. Poet probably hard pressed as before.
"Three or four spoonfuls maybe' ll do, Though some perhaps would take but two. Into a skillet next you'll pour A bottle of good wine, or more; Put half a pint of water, too, Or it may prove too strong for you."
This is personal, nay more, it might to some good people be offensive, as indicating deficiency of cerebral power or endurance.
"And while the eggs by two are beating, The wine and water may be heating; But when it comes to boiling heat, The yolks and whites together beat With half a pint of water more, Mixing them well, then gently pour Into the skillet with the wine, And stir it briskly all the time."
Poet again hard pressed.
"Then pour it off into a pitcher, Grate nutmeg in to make it richer, Then drink it hot, for he's a fool Who lets such precious liquor cool."
Of nectar we have no information worth the reader's acceptance. It appears to be applied indifferently to any dulcet drink.
Negus may be made of any sweet wine, but is commonly composed of port. "It is," says Jerry Thomas, "a most refreshing and elegant beverage, particularly for those who do not take punch or grog after supper."
Egg-nogg, of which other noggs seem to be the lineal descendants, though a beverage of American origin, has "a popularity that is cosmopolitan. In the South of the United States it is almost indispensable at Christmas time, and at the North it is a favourite at all seasons." In Scotland the beverage is called "auld mans milk." The presence of the egg constitutes the differentia in this drink. Every well-ordered bar has a tin egg-nogg "shaker" which is a great aid in mixing. The historian will be glad to learn that it was General Harrison's favourite beverage, and the consumptive and debilitated person that it is full of nourishment.
Punch1 is remarkable for its variety. It is considered necessary by the adept to rub the sugar on the rind of the citron or lemon, to extract properly what the experienced drinker calls "the ambrosial essence." The extraction of the ambrosial essence, and the making the mixture sweet and strong, using tea instead of water, and thoroughly amalgamating all the compounds, so that the taste of neither the bitter, the sweet, the spirit, nor the element shall be perceptible one over the other, is the grand secret of making punch. And to this, as to other learning, there is no royal road. It must, alas! be laboriously acquired by practice. Many are the mysteries of its concoction. For instance, it is essential in making hot punch that that you put in the spirits before the water; in cold pnnch the other way. The precise portions of spirit and water, or even of the acidity and sweetness, can have no general rule. To attempt offering one would only mislead. A certain inspiration must animate the artist. It has been asserted that no two persons make this drink alike. This remark is admirable, and might probably be applied not only to punch, but to every drink that has yet been composed.
1 The verdict of Francois Guislier du Verger, the master-distiller in the art of chemistry at Paris, in his Traite des Liqueurs, in 1728, is altogether unfavourable to what he calls Le Ponge. "It is," he says, "an English liqueur, and a man must be English to drink it; for I think it cannot be to the taste of any other nation in the world. It upsets the stomach, provokes the bile, and violently affects the head. How, indeed, can it be otherwise, seeing that it is composed of white wine, Eau de vie, citrons, a little sugar, and bread crumbs." And then follows the observation: "If water were put instead of Eau de vie, with an equal quantity of wine, a citron, and four ounces of sugar, a liqueur suitable to every one would be the result, a liqueur which would do as much good as the other does harm."