Hi everyone and welcome to Tasting History. Today we're making hippocras,
it's a medieval spiced wine. You might know it as one of the drinks
that they're constantly imbibing on Game of Thrones.
It is one of the easiest recipes i've done yet, and
it is one of the hardest recipes i've done yet. Easy, because other than just
grinding up spices, and waiting a day there's not a lot to do.
Hardest because getting the spices... not simple especially
during quarantine. So today I'll teach you how to make your own hippocras at
home, and give you a few cheats just in case you don't feel like scouring the
globe for certain spices, because frankly unless you're studying to become
a sommelier, wine should not be a source of stress for anyone.
So let us make like Cersei Lannister and get ourselves a glass of hippocras,
this time on Tasting History.
Now there are dozens of recipes for this drink, but I am going to go to my old
standby The Forme of Cury, the 14th century
recipe book from England. It's one of, if not the first
recipe to use the term hippocras, and what's interesting is most of the
recipes in The Form of Cury are in Middle English,
but this one and only this one is in a weird bastardized 14th century French.
So i'm actually going to put the original French recipe
alongside the modern translation so you can see
where we get some of the words, there's I think you'll understand a lot
more than than you might think.
To Make Hippocras: three ounces of cinnamon,
and three ounces of ginger, spikenard of spain
the size of a denier (a small french silver coin),
galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom, a quarter ounce
one-tenth ounce grains of paradise, and powdered cinnamon,
etc. You could never get away with just saying etc at the end of a modern day
recipe, but whatever. Now it's interesting because
this recipe gives us very exact amounts for each of the
ingredients which is not common in a 14th century
recipe, but what it doesn't give us is any instruction on what to do with
these ingredients, and it's missing one rather key
ingredient: the wine. So to crack this nut I have
scoured several later recipes to find clues on exactly
the method uh to make the drink, and how much wine to use,
and what kind of wine to use. Also some of the later recipes
offer more easy to find spices so i'll mention those
as alternatives to things like spikenard, not easy to find.
So before we get started make sure to hit that Like button while you
contemplate how many times I had to re-record that last section,
because I kept saying hippogriff when I meant to say hippocras.
So first the wine. Good news you can pretty much use whatever you want,
because they mention everything red, white, sweet,
dry, didn't really matter so it is up to
you. Now as far as how much wine, that is a
little bit harder. It wasn't until 1660 that I found a recipe (I didn't find it
in 1660), a 1660 recipe from The Accomplished Cook by Robert mMay
where he specifies one gallon of wine for a recipe that has
three ounces of cinnamon which is the same amount of cinnamon that we're using
in our recipe so I figure that's that's going to be about right.
Now a gallon of wine back then was a very common way of bottling it so it
makes sense I'm not going to make a gallon so I will
adjust the amounts to make quite a bit less.
Now other than using three ounces of cinnamon Robert May's recipe is vastly
different from the one that we're using today from The Forme of Cury.
First it includes cream which is interesting in wine,
and second it has three pounds of sugar, three pounds of sugar. That's a lot of
sugar. Our recipe doesn't use sugar at all, most
recipes actually do include a bit of sugar,
but I want to stick to The Form of Cury. So as
much as I love sweet things I will not be adding sugar.
Now when it comes to the method they also run the gamut, some have you heating
the wine, some don't, some have very complex
methods of adding spices, and removing spices the next day, and adding other
spices using three different pots, and a lot, and then some of them are just
like throw the spices in wait a day and then strain it.
That's the one that we're going to use, because why not. So for this recipe you
will need two bottles, or 1500 milliliters of red,
or white wine, one ounce or 28 grams of cinnamon sticks,
one ounce or 28 grams of fresh ginger, a quarter teaspoon of spikenard.
Now I had never heard of spikenard, though I found out that it's also called
nard which was the oil that Mary Magdalene used to
clean Jesus's feet when they were at the house of Lazarus, so
kind of cool, but I didn't know what it smelled or tasted like,
and it's so interesting because really i've never smelled anything quite
like it. It's musky, and earthy yet extremely
sweet and clean at the same time. It almost reminds me
of the scent of the desert after it rains. If you've ever been
in the desert after it rains, I grew up in Arizona, so I know that smell well.
One teaspoon of galangal, one teaspoon of cloves.
They could have been closed like we used today, or they could have been gilly
flower clove. Unfortunately the same term was
used throughout history to mean two different things, so nobody really
knows. Everyone will debate, but we're going to
use cloves, regular old cloves. One teaspoon of long pepper, here's
another one that you might not know. It kind of looks like a stretched out
pine cone to me, and it tastes like pepper.
Like regular black pepper,m but sweeter and at the same time
quite a bit hotter, so very interesting worth finding if you can. One teaspoon of
nutmeg, one teaspoon of marjoram, one teaspoon of
cardamom, half a teaspoon of grains of paradise.
Now this is the one that took forever to get here. I guess you can sometimes find
it in some stores, but during quarantine I couldn't and I
had to order it from a farm in Ghana. It took four months to get here.
When I tasted it, and I and I just tasted one little little
kernel, or corn I guess, it had kind of a
sweet peppery flavor mixed with something a little bit
more aromatic than regular pepper, and then all of a sudden
a wave of heat that was like I had just eaten a tablespoon
of black pepper, it was very interesting. And a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
So like I said some of those spices are going to be a little hard to find, so
if you're in a hurry to get your hippocras on (sounds like hippo
croissant), uh weird um then go ahead and use some
more more nutmeg, black pepper, powdered ginger, and even rosemary because all of
those are mentioned in later recipes, and of course if you want to sweeten it
up you can use sugar which was considered a spice than.
So the first thing to do is pour your wine into a large container,
then break up your cinnamon sticks, and chop your fresh ginger.
Then grind up the rest of your spices, and they don't need to be ground up
super super fine so just do your best, and I apologize to marjoram which is
technically an herb, and not a spice but it's all a little a little weird.
Now while spices are not as expensive as they were in the 14th century they are
still kind of expensive, especially some of those harder to find ones.
So I wanted to thank several of my patrons the Marshals of the Spicery
for helping me afford such luxurious items
I doff my cap to you all, If I only had a cap,
if I only had a cap. ♪
So once you've ground your spices
start adding them directly into the wine and give everything a good mix,
and then we wait. About a day, even two. Every once in a while
you can go ahead and give them a give it another mix, but really just
leave it in the pitcher, and let the spices do their work,
and while we wait it is the perfect excuse to take a look
at why Europe fell in love with hippocras.
"He drynketh ypocras, claree, and vernage
of spices hoote t'encressen his corage." And essentially that means he drank
spiced wines to increase his desire, no wonder it stayed popular for so long.
One of the first recipes we have for spiced wine comes from the Apicius De Re
Coquinaria from the 4th century, and the very first
two recipes in the collection are for spiced wine surprise, and spiced
honey wine for travelers. By the early middle ages a drink called
piment crops up in several manuscripts from Catalan in
modern Spain, and in the 1180s Chrétien de Troyes
wrote an Arthurian legend about the quest for the holy grail
during which Sir Percival drinks a cup of piment after each meal.
For some reason the term piment falls out of use, and is replaced in the 14th
century by hippocras or ypocras. This is
probably due to the fact that the spices were drained out of a manicum
hippocraticum, or hippocratic sleeve. A popular tool of
your friendly neighborhood apothecary. It was a conical cloth bag devised by
the 5th century BC physician Hippocrates. Now right about now you're
probably asking why are people adding all these spices
to the wine? Why not just drink the wine, and there are three popular theories. For
the first we have to trot out those four old chestnuts: The Humors. Come on
out here you crazy guys! We have Blood, Yellow Bile, Black Bile, and
Phlegm. Often attributed to Hippocrates himself,
medieval medicine was all about controlling
your humors, and keeping them in balance to stay healthy, and I go into
more detail in another video on the Black Plague, and the four Humors which
I'll link in the description, but essentially one way to control your
Humors was through food, and each food was given different
degrees of hot, cold, wet, and dry and wine was no different. So
the theory was that if you say took a cold, wet wine,
and added hot dry spices in the correct amounts
then it would become the perfect medicinal beverage, and
was often served at the end of feasts to aid in digestion.
A second theory suggests that the spices were added there to kind of spruce up a
wine that was maybe subpar so if you had a bottle of Two
Buck Chuck that was about to go bad, and you threw in some cinnamon you're
good to go, but frankly if you could afford cinnamon in the
Middle Ages you could probably afford better wine,
so I don't know about that one. Then there's the third theory which is the
theory of why people do anything to their food, and that's because
it tastes good. You know pretty simple, and it must have tasted good because it
was all the rage throughout Europe in the Middle Ages,
but in the 1430s hippocras fell in with one
bad dude. He was the Baron Gilles de Rais, distinguished soldier and comrade in arms
of Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years War,
also arguably history's first recorded serial killer. And I'm not going to go
into details about his crimes, but in his
confession it is gruesome. Essentially he
plied hundreds of young children with hippocras, and then killed and
dismembered them. Pretty disturbing, and poor hippocras's
name got dragged through the mud along with him,
but just as people kept drinking Kool-aid after Jonestown, it
didn't really stop people from drinking hippocras for very long.
Hippocras stayed popular through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, all the way
up until the 18th century, and there was a a type of hippocras for
really everyone. You had these multi-spiced wines
for the very, very wealthy, and then really any that had sugar would have
been for someone with with quite a bit of cash, but then
you also had spiced wines for the poor, they were
sweetened with honey, and usually bits of fruit, and that might
sound familiar because we still drink wine that is sweetened
with fruit today, and it's called sangria which actually
has its own fascinating history which i'll have to cover in another
episode. But while hippocras lost favor in the 18th century, other spiced wines
emerged and took up the torch mostly in the winter months served warm.
In England mulled wine and wassail punch made with spiced cider were and still
are must-haves at Christmas parties. Every
weihnachtsmarkt in Germany serves glühwein in either a tankard, or these
cute little ceramic boots, and in nordic countries they have glögg
which is still made with some of the spices that were used in that 14th
century recipe from The Forme of Cury. Honestly
almost every European country, and many former European colonies
has some sort of spiced wine as part of their cuisine,
and i'd like to think that most people aren't drinking it to balance their
hippocratic humors, but because it tastes good. Now speaking
of Hippocrates let's see what we can use in lieu of
that hippocratic sleeve. So after a day or two your hippocras
should be ready to strain, and now if you want to emulate that
conical look of the manicum hippocraticum,
you can get either a jelly bag or one of these.
This is meant for making cold brew they come in all shapes, and sizes. This was
big enough for for two bottles for me, and i'll put
a link in the description to where you can get that but honestly you could
probably just use a regular old coffee filter. Also a lot of the recipes
have you using the dregs because again these spices are very expensive so
if you want you can go ahead and use those dregs to make other things like
sauces, or even soap! Hm, interesting. So now before I taste this I
will mention that this was served both warm and at room temperature,
so i'm going to use that as an excuse to actually have
three glasses. One warmed on the stove, one at room temperature, and then one
that i've chilled like sangria. So here we are are three glasses of
hippocras: one hot, one room temperature, and one cold. I'm
gonna start with the hot one, even though it's like 95 degrees out
because it's July and let's think christmas in
Oh my goodness, okay so if if what ails you is that you have some sinus
issues this will cure what ails you.
Oh my gosh i can feel my pupils dilating wow, okay.
Oh that is very Christmassy, it kind of reminds me of gluhwein from
from Germany if you've ever had that, it's wonderful though,
definitely hot. Now let's try the room temperature one,
smells completely different, much less spice much, much i mean it doesn't clear
your nostrils like the other one did maybe
they're already clear, I don't know.
Okay if you want something that will transport you back to
the 14th century in a huge castle, this is it.
What an interesting flavor this is. What's fantastic is
there is spice to it, in the back of my throat and it's just
getting more, and more it's I think it's those grains of paradise, or maybe the
long pepper. There is spice like heat, definite heat
to this to this drink,
but then it's sweet too because I ended up using a slightly sweeter red.
I don't think it needs sugar, I don't think it would be good with sugar.
I just love it as is. That is really cool, and just flavors,
flavors that i've never tried before. What i'm not getting is the the spikenard
I mean I kind of didn't figure that
I would, but that aromatic fragrance of the spikenard
I'm not i'm not getting that too much, though nothing overwhelms it
which is cool. And now the glass of cold sangria-like
Again, totally different.
The cinnamon pops out in this one, such different flavors, and
it's funny because the hot one really cleared your nasal passages.
The room temperature one had that scent,
but wasn't overwhelming. This one smells
very little, but the flavor
is really nice. This one actually reminds me more of Christmas flavors, the middle
one not at all, the warm one okay, but this
one it feels like all right let's sit down
by the fire, and and open some presents and
get drunk on hippocras. Now I have three glasses to finish,
and so i'm going to turn off the camera before I do that,
but I wanted to thank you for sticking with me and I will see you next time
on Tasting History.