Monday, September 23, 2019

1862 Brandy Sangaree with Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy by Spirits of French Lick

If you have gotten hold of a bottle of Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy by Spirits of French Lick, you have a real 19th Century American experience in a bottle. There is no shortage of distilled spirits out there there that put a bit of history or nostalgia on the label as enticing salesmanship (often very excellent spirits, I admit, and few people will be drawn in by 19th Century imagery as easily as I!). But this stuff is different. The distiller, Alan Bishop, is a personal friend; we came together because of distilling history. I have been to his facility, seen him work, and had the privilege of working with him. This is the culmination a lifetime of research and passion for bringing the often forgotten history Indiana distilling culture that was lost in Prohibition back to life.

And bring it to life he did! So, naturally, I had to put it to very 19th Century use. Enter, of course, Jerry Thomas's 1862 Bartender's Guide:

A lot of people say his recipes are difficult to interpret but if you're used to 19th Century recipes and equipment in general, you can get a pretty good idea pretty easily. A brandy cocktail that caught my eye right away was the "Brandy Sangaree," recipe 127 on page 55. It requires cross referencing with the "Brandy Toddy," recipe 133 on page 57.

To recreate this:

Put several small ice cubes in a usual cocktail tumbler (the recipe says "2/3 full" which bore out nicely on the ca. 1860s tumbler I was using but may be a little less in modern ones, which are significantly larger).

Add a teaspoon of white granulated sugar (modern teaspoon measure).

Add 1/2 a wine glass of water. (I happened to have some wine glasses on hand from roughly the same period or slightly later as the book; much smaller than a modern wine glass; 1/2 of a wine glass bears out to roughly 1 oz or very slightly more).

On top of that, add a wine glass of Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy (slightly more than 2 oz.)

Mix thoroughly.

Drop in a teaspoon (modern teaspoon measure) of port but do not mix- just let it drift in. I used Porto Morgado Ruby Port- very inexpensive but still pleasant and worked perfect for this.

Grate a bit of nutmeg on top (use your taste and personal judgement for how much.

The result was a very pleasant, balanced, nuanced, "round feeling" beverage unlike anything I thought of as a cocktail in the usual classic 20th Century sense. It was like sipping velvet and every drop was a great pleasure to be savored. Amy is partaking of one as I type this just now and enthusiastically agrees.

"The Professor" Jerry Thomas and I will be spending quite a bit more time together in the future. And don't worry, if what I have described here is too complicated or strange sounding but you have a bottle of Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy and still want an authentic 19th Century imbibing experience, consider recipe 213 on page 81 of Thomas's excellent guide:

"Brandy Straight
(Use small bar glass)

'In serving this drink you simply put a piece of ice in a tumbler, and hand to your customer, with the bottle of brandy. This is very safe for a steady drink, but thought a straight beverage, it is often used on a bender."

Have a sober coachman at the ready in the case of a bender and, by all means, explore what this remarkable distillery has to offer!

Your's & c.

The Victorian Man

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Working Men, ca. 1880s

One of my favorite sort of Victorian photographs to find are group photos of people done in the setting that the group gathers in (versus in a studio). More faces from the period for your money and generally more candid, showing a real moment from the time. Church, school, and family groups are exciting enough but there is something especially real about people photographed where they worked. I think this is the only one in my collection. By the suits on the boss men, it appears to be from sometime in the 1880s but could conceivably be early 1890s. Here is the full photo followed by detail shots of it divided into four quadrants. Lots of wonderful details of every day working guys. Hope you enjoy it and that it helps with your recreation of every day men's working dress at the end of the Victorian period if that is up your alley like it is mine.

Yours & c.

The Victorian Man

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas From 1908!

It's a day late but wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! This photo from my collection came to mind yesterday so pulled it out. No idea who it is r where it was taken but is marked "xmas 1908" on the beck. Hope your day was as joyous as these folks seemed to be!

Your's & c.

The Victorian Man

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Dinner in the 1880s

Recently, Amy was back in California for visits with old friends and a weekend as Agnes from David Copperfield at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair. This left me with an excellent opportunity to cook things that she especially can't stand the smell of, which especially means fish (which I especially love). If I was going to craft a dining experience, it was going to be completely Victorian. On this particular evening, the latter end of the period won out and I went with further exploration of my copy of the 1886 Philadelphia Cook Book 

by Mrs. S.T Rorer

Every word this lady wrote was solid gold (I have a lot of cook books and this is truly one of the best) so I knew I was in good hands for a new experiment.

The main event was broiled fish (salmon in my case):

With Sauce Hollandaise:

Which also requires making drawn butter:

A few notes if you want to try it in a modern kitchen- when you broil the salmon (I only did about 0.63 lb.), place the oven rack about 6" from the broiler (second place in mine) and broil for a good five minutes on each side. I highly recommend doing further reading on safe handling for the specific fish and weight you are using.

When you are making the drawn butter for the Hollandaise sauce, 1 Cup of water will work well for the 1/2 pint specified.

I kept it simple and just had an appropriately basic salad as an accompaniment with French dressing from the same book (using the option for tarragon vinegar):

This is a wonderful dressing and, while not difficult to make, it is crucial that the instructions be followed exactly in order for it to come out well.

Madeira was my wine of choice (courtesy of my good friend Doug Rousch) with water as well.

Indulged in setting the table with original 19th Century table ware with the exception of the oil lamp, napkin, and the bowl that the salad dressing was in. That bowl is the excellent craftsmanship of my friends at J. Henderson Artifacts. They can't be beat for any sort of historic stoneware, including custom pieces.

It was a delectable taste of the period and very nice way to pass an evening. One more thing solidly in the realm of what the Victorians did better. If you are feeling the need to immerse your senses in history but the next event is just not close enough, I highly recommend jumping into a few recipes from whatever period is your passion and making an evening of it. You won't be sorry!

Your's & c.

The Victorian Man

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Locust Grove/Charles Dickens/Queen Victoria Connection

Unfortunately, the stars did not align this year to rejoin my friends at the magnificent Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

    Playing Nephew Fred at Dickens Fair in 2013 with Dennis Parks as Scrooge. If someone know who took this  photo, please let me know!

but I did stumble upon a new detail recently that called to mind how Locust Grove (the ca. 1792 historic house museum where I work in Louisville, KY), Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria (who you may also meet at the fair!)...

  Amy as Queen Victoria in 2012. Again- someone let me know who took this so I can mention them

...all circle around the same incident in 1842. I have finally gotten around to reading Charles Dickens' American Notes, which I was especially interested to read since George Croghan of Locust Grove...

  Lt. Col. George Croghan, ca. 1816. Collection of Historic Locust Grove. Read more about Col. Croghan here.

...mentioned in his journal 7 April 1842, “…Dickens arrived at the Galt House during the night but departed for St. Louis very soon after breakfast.” This was during the American tour that Dickens wrote American Notes about. Dickens mentioned little about Louisville other than how impressed he was with the Galt House.

                                                  Charles Dickens in 1842 by Francis Alexander

Dickens was on his way West. He made it to St. Louis and ultimately to see the prairie, which he was very unimpressed by, then traveled back through Louisville (seeking out the same excellent hotel) and Cincinnati on his way to Sandusky in Ohio.

On the way, he stopped at a hotel, apparently somewhere around Columbus, OH, where at dinner there was, “…a droning gentleman who talks arithmetically and statistically on all subjects, from poetry downwards; and who always speaks in the same key, with exactly the same emphasis, and with very grave deliberation.”

I was half asleep, making my way through morning coffee, when I read this and almost glanced over it but something told me that it was crucial and worth comprehending. Dickens went on to say:

"He came outside just now, and told me how that the uncle of a certain young lady who had been spirited away and married by a certain captain, lived in these parts; and how this uncle was so valiant and ferocious that he shouldn’t wonder if he were to follow that said captain to England, ‘and shoot him down in the street wherever he found him;’ in the feasibility of which strong measure I, being for the moment rather prone to contradiction, from feeling half asleep and very tired, declined to acquiesce: assuring him that if the uncle did resort to it, or gratified any other little whim of the like nature, he would find himself one morning prematurely throttled at the Old Bailey: and that he would do well to make his will before he went, as he would certainly want it before he had been in Britain very long."

Earlier that year, George Croghan's fourteen year old niece, Mary:

daughter and only surviving child of George's younger brother, William Croghan, Jr.:

had eloped with English Napoleonic War veteran, Edward Schenley, who was nearly thirty years older than she was:

This caused a major transatlantic scandal and, in fact, George Croghan had written to his cousin John O'Fallon on February 16, 1842, "[William] is half distracted. Let him rouse himself and pursue to the rescue of his child, even though to effect it he have to blow the vile robber's brains out. I write in haste and in great distress." Supposedly, the ire of Queen Victoria, herself, was raised by the incident.

Queen Victorian in 1843 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter - Royal Collection RCIN 406010

So, there you have it- whether at Locust Grove in Louisville or the Dickens Fair in San Francisco, we are really telling the same story! Break a leg out there, Victorian Londoners, and to find out more about the Croghan-Schenley scandal, visit this article on the official Locust Grove blog.

Your's & c.,

The Victorian Man

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Mid 19th Century Quilt Idea

Quilts are hands down one of the most nuanced, complicated, fraught with myth and misinformation corners of textile history. Most of my sewing life, I have been saving scraps from projects hoping to one day turn them into some sort of basic quilt of a form correct to somewhere in the middle to late 19th Century. But while I am always fascinated to read scholarship on the evolution of quilts during the 19th Century, I find myself nowhere close to wrapping my mind around it. Even the seemingly haphazard late Century crazy quilts combine their own brand of specialized joining and stitches, leaving me wondering in the end if the make-do quilts of legend ever existed at all. While artistic license is always a possibility, these two works seem to portray something that may be possible with my random period scraps and novice hands:

The above image appears to be ca. 1850s but I have not found specific information on the date or artist. The bed covering appears to be a simple arrangement of a variety of squares and rectangles. Detail of the piece:

And the following is ca. 1870 Story of Golden Locks Seymour Joseph Guy:

I'm not sure if the detail at the lower left here is meant to portray a decorative curved form of the edge of this quilt or if it is just a fold but this also appears to be an arrangement of random pieces arranged in basic geometric shapes fit together as able:

May be worth a try.

Your's & c.

The Victorian Man

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Peach Pie from 1886

Another very well done cookbook from the Victorian period is The Philadelphia Cookbook: A Manual of Home Economics by Mrs. S. T. Rorer, principal of the Philadelphia Cooking School, 1886. this evening, I tried her recipe for peach pie and it turned out very well:

"Line pie dishes with good plain paste. Pare, cut the peaches in halves, and take out the stones, then lay them in the dishes, sprinkle lightly with sugar, add a quarter cup of water, cover with an upper crust, and bake in a quick oven for thirty minutes; or the peaches may be thoroughly rubbed without paring, slightly mashed and baked without stoning."

Use whatever your favorite pie crust recipe is. You'll need seven or eight peaches. We were a little short so, at Amy's suggestion, we added some blackberries to make up the space, which were great. I just cut the peaches into nice sized bits. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Your's & c.
The Victorian Man