Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sipping Simkin.

My mini-research on ‘shrub’ for the post last week turned up a new/old word to investigate and celebrate. One of the supporting references included mention of ‘simkin shrub.’ I had no idea what ‘simkin’ was, and presumed it must be the name of a celebrity or perhaps an exotic location. Not so.  

I was delighted to find that ‘simkin’ is an Anglo-Indian word, as these are amongst my favourite linguistic treats. The Oxford English Dictionary notes it in 1853, and says it is an Urdu corruption of champagne . So, simkin (or simpkin, samkin) shrub is champagne shrub, and this phrase is recorded from 1864. 

The gospel on Anglo-Indian words is the marvellous Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases ... (1903) and it gives the following definition: “Simkin: s. Domestic Hind, or champagne, of which it is a corruption: sometimes as samkin.”  It gives the same first written mention as the OED, in 1853 as “The dinner was good, and the iced simkin, Sir, Delicious”(Oakfield, ii, 127)

Those who have mixed Simkin Shrub in the past seem to have failed to record their recipes, so I am forced to offer you a recipe for Champagne Punch as the recipe for today.

Champagne Punch.
In a bowl place one sliced orange, one lime sliced very thin, and the juice of another lime, one-fourth of a pineapple sliced, and one fourth of a pound of sugar. Let it stand twelve hours. Put a large block of ice in a punch bowl, add the above ingredients with a wine glass of Maraschino, two tumblers of sauterne, a wine glass of raspberry syrup, and last of all one quart of champagne, a few whole strawberries, and a claret glass of Benedictine may also be added.
Joe Tilden’s Recipes for Epicures (1907).

Quotation for the Day.
My only regret in life is that I didn't drink enough Champagne.
John Maynard Keynes


Deana Sidney said...

I love this drink.. perfect for summer.

Walter Jacobson said...

There is an 1862 recipe for Champagne Punch in Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide -
We see the use of dry cherry brandy/eau-de-vie in the later Staits and Singapore Slings.
Punch is from the Indian 'panch' which refers to the 5 original ingredients to make it - arrack, lime, water, sugar, spices. Over time rum and brandy replaced the arrack and it developed beyond its 5 basic ingredients and includes various liquors and sparkling wines.