[Sca-cooks] HYPOCRAS was Warm Beer was Beverage experiments

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Sat Feb 16 19:42:54 PST 2008

The papers in the Leeds Symposium volumes were originally talks and 
there aren't as
many footnotes or citations as we would like. She doesn't give a 
footnote for that line.

Certainly from the hours that I spent this evening looking through 
EEBO-TCP and then Google Books,
it's hard to say that it was always served either cold or hot or warm. 
There are so many spellings
for Hippocras or Ipocras or Hypocras that keyword searching can be 
almost impossible. Add in words
like heat, hot, warm and the documents multiply without any real results.
Russell doesn't say and neither does the Book of Carving.

OED mentions *C. 1386* Chaucer /Merch. T./ 365 He drynketh Ypocras 
Clarree and Vernage Of spices hoote tencreessen his corage.

If the spices are hot in nature, then it might not have been necessary 
to heat or warm it.
One character in the play Knavery in all trades, or, The coffee-house a 
comedy : as it was acted in the Christmas holidays by several 
apprentices with great applause. by John Thatham Printed 1664.

A Cup of Hypocras, 'twill warme thee within Wench; come kiss me, poor 
Rogue dost not want a Course this morning?
It could well be that hypocras was warming all on its own without ever 
being heated up.

I found such paragraphs as :

"Another recipe is found, much in vogue at
wedding festivals, ' introduced at the commencement of
the banquet, served hot; of so comforting and generous
a nature that the stomach would be at once put into
good temper.' It was constantly served with comfits;
thiw we find Elizabeth Woodville ordering up ' green
ginger, comfits, and ipocras.' Katharine of Arragon
gave ipocras and comfits for the voide."

from Nineteen Centuries of Drink in England: A History - Page 92 by 
Richard Valpy French from 1884


"This compound was usually given at
marriage festivals, when it was introduced at the commencement
of the banquet, served hot; for it is said to
be of so comforting and generous a nature that the
stomach would be at once put into good temper to
enjoy the meats provided. Hypocras was also a favourite
winter beverage, and we find in an old almanac of 1699
the lines— "
Sack, Hypocras, now, and burnt brandy
Are drinks as warm and good as can be.""

    *From * CUPS AND THEIR CUSTOMS. On page 18 by Henry Porter, George
    Edwin Roberts – 1863

Then I came across a passage from The Cloister Life of the Emperor 
Charles the Fifth

By William Stirling Maxwell, William Stirling. It dates from 1853 and 
mentions that "the Emperor in retirement “forewent
wine and beer, and drank *hypocras* and *hot* water. *...”"

The Victorians seemed to have no doubt that it was drunk warm. *But 
*really the need to heat the concoction is open to debate.
Yet searching also produces statements like

"replaced the almost universal use of hot, spiced, red wines (hypocras). 
..." from 2002's Wine Tasting: A Professional Handbook by Jackson.

If it's all folklore that it was ever served hot at all, then it's a 
widespread legend.
There's a nice*
* website http://www.hypocras.com/ that I found and I would also recommend
Ivan Day's article at http://www.historicfood.com/Hippocras%20Recipes.htm


David Friedman wrote:
> What's her evidence? Is there somewhere a period reference to serving 
> it hot? It's clearly heated to make it, at least in some recipes, but 
> that doesn't tell us how it was served.
>> She says either warm or cold. Johnnae
>> David Friedman wrote:
>>>>  The article to see is this one--
>>>>  Buxton, Moira. "Hypocras, Caudels, Possets and Other Comforting Drinks."
>>>>  Liquid
>>>>  Nourishment. Potable Foods and Stimulating Drinks. [Food and Society 5.]
>>>>  Ed. By
>>>>  C. Anne Wilson. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1993. pp.70-78.
>>>>  Johnnae
>>>  Does she say if hypocras was served hot? We've generally assumed it
>>>  was, but I don't think i know of any evidence.

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