Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mint Juleps in Victorian England?

Not quite but good effort. In 1845, Englishwoman Eliza Acton published one of the greatest cook books in history. In my personal experience, her book blows the slightly later work by Mrs. Beeton out of the water. She makes a great effort to not only relate contemporary English recipes but acquaint her readers with food and beverages from elsewhere, in this case America. In her entry, "Mint Julep, an American Receipt," she does note that, "...the receipt, which was contributed by an American gentlemen, is somewhat vague." Could be that the American gentleman wasn't letting loose of his secret. One way or another, pursuing further documentation of mint julep methods in the 1840s is now on my agenda.

It comes out rather charming but is brandy based (even though she does note that it doesn't have to be) and lacks any sweetener, which it could have stood (and I do not generally like very sweet beverages).

So here it is:

"'Strip the tender leaves of mint into a tumbler, and add to them as much wine, brandy, or any other spirit, as you wish to take. Put some pounded ice into a second tumbler; pour this on the mint and brandy, and continue to pour the mixture from one tumbler to the other until the whole is sufficiently impregnated with the flavor of the mint, which is extracted by the particles of the ice coming into brisk contact when changed from one vessel to the other. Now place the glass in a larger one, containing pounded ice: on taking it out of which it will be covered with frost work.'"

Acton then notes, "We apprehend that this preparation is, like most other iced American beverages, to be imbibed through a reed...."

I placed it in the freezer for a few minutes instead of placing it in a glass of ice and used a paper straw instead of a reed (plastic straws never touch the lips of real Victorian men)

It was a great little experiment with one country trying to interpret what was going on in another in 1845. Please feel free to contribute your julep history notes in the comments!

Your's & c
The Victorian Man

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