Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Beverage for a New Year.

If you are in search of a new beverage idea for your New Year, perhaps you could take inspiration from Round the table: notes on cookery and plain recipes, with a selection of bills of fare for every month (Philadelphia, 1876) by Victor Chevalley de Rivaz. A man of French heritage living in America should surely have some good ideas on old Scottish customs, should he not?


        Keeping New Year's Eve is a Scotch custom much in vogue in France ; and as I am very fond of old customs, Scotch or otherwise, I never fail to see the old year out and the new year in in a fit and proper manner. This means, inter alia, that a festive drink or cup is elaborately prepared by the present writer, and at the orthodox moment of twelve p.m. the household, barring children in arms, partake of it and wish each other all that is
usual on such occasions.
         There are many drinks suitable for this celebration, but still their number has a limit, and besides, a change is always welcome, although there is an interval of twelve months between each potation. On the 31st of December last, therefore, I resolved to invent something new, and the company assembled were rather disgusted when they were told that the festive cup would consist of wine and jam. When, however,

I showed them the stuff and they twigged it,

they all declared, and some I dare say “swore,” as in the song, that there was nothing like my new drink. I confess I rather liked it myself, and, in common with others, wished when it was all gone, that I had made more of it. The ladies of the party were so pleased with it that encouraged by their approbation, I will describe the whole process.
         The jam I used was made of black currants in this way: Extract the juice and pulp from the fruit by passing it through a sieve — then put into a preserving pan 2 ½ lb. of crystallised sugar and a little more than half a pint of water; let the syrup boil for about half an hour, then add to it 3 lb. of the pulp and juice of the currants; let the whole boil until the jam sets firmly, which you ascertain by pouring a few drops of it on a cold plate, and then proceed to fill your pots, to be tied up, &c., when cold.

Now for the drink — into a saucepan containing rather less than one quart of water put half an ordinary-sized pot of the jam, a small handful of cloves, a stick of cinnamon a foot long, broken in small pieces, the rind of two or three oranges, and the same quantity of lemon rind, with sugar √† discr√©tion, but not too much. Set the saucepan to boil with the lid on for an hour and a half or more. While this is going on have four bottles of claret (it need not be Chateau Lafitte), which you place inside the fender so as to warm the wine as much as possible; then pour it into a large saucepan, add the third of a bottle of Cognac, and set it on the fire to get as hot as possible without boiling. As soon as the requisite temperature is attained, pour in the liquor from the other saucepan through a fine strainer, give the whole a stir for luck, fill your glasses, put a little grated nutmeg on the top of each, and “you shall see marvels.”
I have given the proportions I used as nearly as possible; but frequent tasting during the process, and the quality of the ingredients used, must also guide those who have not sufficient experience in these matters to hit off the right quantity in each particular case.
The black currant jam of commerce would, I believe, do quite as well as that made in my way; and the nutmeg might be put in to boil with the other spices.

In conclusion, I would observe that, to the best of my belief, that this drink is new; but of one thing at least I am certain — that it is excellent, and my parting wish to my readers is that they may never have a worse drink wherewith to keep the old Scotch custom of seeing the old year out.

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