Regency Mixology

Hungover from the holidays? How about a little hair of the dog? This is a post about British alcohol in the Regency period, but I’ve inserted some French paintings from the same era for no other reason than because they make me happy.  And it’s my blog. My expression. I love pretty pictures that tell stories.

The following is excerpted from The Spirit, Wine Dealer’s and Publican’s Director by Edward Palmer and published in 1824. The wonderful French paintings were created by Louis-Léopold Boilly.

British Brandy 

To twenty gallons of rectified spirits, put a quarter of a pound of bitter almonds, half a pound of cassia-buds, one ounce of orris-root, one pound of prunes, three pounds of sugar candy; and if you add one gallon of foreign Brandy it will be equal to Spanish; rummage it well in the cask for about a week, and then colour it, which can be done with a little burnt sugar, but the best brandy colouring is to be bought at Messrs. Staples and Co. ‘s in the Old Bailey, London, and as a gallon can be purchased for about nine shillings, it is scarcely worth the trouble of making.

British Gin

In ordering a puncheon of the above from the rectifiers, desire them to send strong unsweetened gin,” consequently they will send it of the strength of one in five, which is termed in the trade twenty two  per cent under proof; if you do not wish to reduce the whole at once, have a cask of sixty three gallons, then draw off fifty gallons, and add ten gallons of liquor to fill up, which will make a reduction of strength of one gallon in six, and it will then be glass proof, and of the quality that dealers sell to publicans at twelve shillings, when the strong gin is the same price; but if you should wish to make it, at any time, to sell at a higher price, you may then draw in your can such a portion of the strong gin, as you may judge will suit the price.

Now in order to prepare this, you must, to the sixty gallons, take four pounds of clarified lump sugar, let it be nearly cold, pour it into the cask and stir it well, force with four ounces of alum, and four ounces of salt of tartar powdered small, and boiled together in three quarts of water, till it becomes milk white, then put it into the cask hot, stir the liquor Well, both before and after.

Of Cordial Gin and British Brandy

Kill the above spirits with a pint of spirits of wine, and add eight,  and add about eight pounds of loaf sugar, twenty five gallons of spirits, one in five, which will bear five gallons of water; rouse it well, and in order to fine it, take two ounces of alum, and one of salt of tartar, boil it till it be quite white, then throw it into your cask, continually stirring it for ten minutes, bung it up, and when fine it will be fit for use.

Peppermint Cordial

Take six and a half gallons of strong gin, twelve and a half pounds of loaf sugar, half a pint of spirits of wine, three quarters of an ounce of oil of peppermint; the spirits of wine to be used for the purpose of killing the oil of peppermint, to do which take about two ounces of sugar, dry it by the fire, then pound the sugar and oil of peppermint well in a mortar, (those made by Wedgwood are preferable to brass) then add your spirits of wine by degrees, and continue for some time to stir the same either right or left till the oil has been completely killed. Your spirits of wine ought to be sufficiently strong to fire gunpowder, should it not be of that strength you will not kill your oil; in order to ascertain this, take a table-spoon and put a little gunpowder into it, then wet the gunpowder with the spirits of wine, and set fire to it with a piece of paper, and if it is not the full strength, the powder will, when the fire is out, remain wet, but on the contrary will explode.

Now pour the twelve and a half pounds of sugar, (having clarified it) into your ten gallon cask, with the prepared oil of peppermint, and well rouse the same for some time, fill up the cask with clean water, with one ounce of alum boiled in one pint of water, reagitate when you add the water which contained the alum, then bung it down, and in the course of a fortnight it will be fit for use.

Rum Shrub

Take fifteen gallons of proof rum, two gallons of lemon juice, one gallon of Seville orange juice, forty five pounds of loaf sugar, two quarts of tincture prepared [see below], and a few rinds of lemons; fill up your cask- with water. If not sweet enough with the above quantity of sugar, sweeten afterwards to your fancy.

Brandy Shrub

Take five gallons of brandy reduced one in eight, loaf sugar eighteen pounds, lemon juice three quarts, and one quart of the brandy tincture, put it into a ten gallon cask and nearly fill with water, then ascertain whether it wants an addition of any of the above ingredients, if so, add such as appear necessary to fill up your cask, and after well rummaging it, let it stand till fine.

The Tincture

Take any quantity of the rinds of Seville oranges and lemons pared very thin, so as to contain none of the white, put them into a jar and fill it nearly full of proof or over proof rum or brandy, and let it stand some time to digest.

An excellent and cheap method of making Shrub

To a twenty gallon cask take two quarts of tincture, two gallons of lime or lemon juice, twenty eight pounds of loaf sugar, five gallons of proof rum, and ten gallons of white currant wine, then fill nearly with water, and taste if it meet your approbation, if so, add to the cask to make it full such of the above ingredients as you may consider the most desirable.

N. B. As there is a great deal of trouble in expressing the juice from the lemons and oranges, I would recommend dealers and publicans to purchase the juice prepared, which may be bought in a high state of perfection at Messrs. Lucas’s, Bristol, at about three shillings and six pence per gallon, where also may be had the rinds of either dried.

The best method of making Punch

Put into your bowl, three quarters of a pound of loaf sugar, then in order to make a good sized bowl, take three lemons, rub some of the sugar over them to extract the flavour from the rinds, then pare them as thin as possible, and add the parings as well as all the juice you can extract, and if you like the pulp add that also; (ragged punch is admired in the country, but at the coffeehouses in London, they always send it in strained and quite clear, having only a thin slice of the lemon put into the glass) pour on the same some boiling water, and mix it up well for some time, to extract the flavour of the rinds; and when you find your lemonade is to your liking, then put the spirits to it, which should be done in the following proportions: to every three quarts or thereabout of lemonade, begin by putting in two glasses of rum and one of brandy alternately, till you find it sufficiently strong; it is not well to add water to it when made, but to this quantity one small tumbler of porter or strong beer is a great improvement, as it tends to soften and enrich the punch. Reserve about three slices of lemon to put into the bowl by way of garnish.

Milk Punch

Make a tincture as follows. Pare ten Seville oranges and twelve lemons thin, put the rind in two quarts of rum, and let it steep for a few days, occasionally agitating it. Then put six pounds of loaf sugar into a clean pan, squeeze the above lemons and oranges on the sugar, add two gallons of water, and one gallon of boiling hot- milk; mix all together, and then add the above tincture; filter it through a jelly bag, and it will be transparent and fit for immediate use; but when bottled it should be kept in a cold cellar.


To eight quarts of clear spring water, add one pound and a half of fine loaf sugar, and the juice of three lemons, with the yellow part of the rinds, stir it up till the sugar be dissolved, and let it stand till fine; after which, bottle and cork it, and in about ten days it will effervesce, and be very pleasant summer beverage.

Sixpenny worth of Crank

Make a good fourpenny glass-full of warm gin and water with sugar, add a slice of lemon and half a wine glass-full of fine porter.

Note—This will afford the Landlord an extra profit of twenty per cent, and is a liquor which would please his customers.

Roman Purl

This is a beverage, which is held in high estimation by the metropolitans, and by them made in greater perfection than by others. In London it is made from amber ale, with a mixture of gin bitters; the amber ought to be heated by a very quick fire, the gin and bitters put into a pewter half pint, and the ale added to it, at the exact warmth for a person to drink such portion at a single draught.


This is principally sold by confectioners at a very high price, but as it is now much used for sweetening of grog, punch, &c. the following receipt will enable all Publicans to manufacture it themselves, and it is an article they ought never to be without.

Take ten pounds of loaf sugar, two quarts of water, the whites of half a dozen eggs well beat up, put the whole into a stew pan and boil it till you have taken off all the scum, then filter it through a jelly bag, and when nearly cold, add to it a quarter of a pint of fresh orange flower water.

Cherry Brandy 

Take a wide mouth’d bottle and fill it nearly half full of the best Cognac brandy, then take to every two quart bottle half a pound of best loaf sugar grated, and add it to the brandy, shaking it till the sugar be properly dissolved; then cut the stalks off within half an inch of the cherry and prick each in three places with a needle, and drop it into the bottle, and when the bottle has been filled with the cherries, add as much brandy as the bottle will hold; cork it, and at Christmas you may venture to taste it, when I will engage it shall be excellent.

The species of cherries should be morellas, and not the least bruised.

Cherry Brandy

To every gallon of the juice of the cherry, add six quarts of British brandy or clean rectified spirits, one pound of brown sugar, a quarter of an ounce of cinnamon and cloves.

Raspberry Brandy

The plan laid down for the manufacture of cherry brandy, will answer for raspberry brandy likewise.

Caraway Brandy

 Three quarts of brandy one in eight, three pints of water, one pound of loaf sugar, one ounce of caraway seeds, and a quarter of an ounce, of cinnamon; digest them for fourteen days and filter through blotting paper or a flannel bag.

King’s Cordial

Take two quarts of East India Madeira, two quarts of best cherry brandy, a quarter of an ounce of caraway seeds, half a nutmeg grated, two drachms of cinnamon and mace bruised, two pounds of fine loaf sugar, three lemons with the yellow part of the rinds, and one quart of strong green tea; put the whole into a two gallon jar and fill it with water, let it stand ten days, then draw off what is fine, and filter the remainder through blotting paper.

Queen’s Cordial

Take six quarts of cherry brandy, two quarts of sherry, three pints of brandy or three pints of rum, quarter of an ounce of cassia, two drachms of mace, quarter of an ounce of caraway seeds and one of coriander seeds, also the juice of three lemons with the exterior part of the rinds, and two pounds of fine loaf sugar; the spice to be bruised, then fill up with rose water a three gallon cask, let it stand to digest, and when fine it will be fit for use.

Imperial Ratafia

Take half a pound of the kernels of apricots, peaches, and nectarines, and one pound of bitter almonds, bruised; half an ounce of compound essence of ambergris should be dissolved in two quarts of spirits of wine, after which add to the spirits of wine the kernels therein to digest for a few days, put it in the cask, and fill up with spring water, when fine it will be fit for use.

English Noyeau

Take fifteen gallons of pure rectified spirits, one in five, four pounds of bitter almonds bruised, half a pound of dried lemon peel, and twenty eight pounds of Loaf sugar, let it stand to digest in the cask, tap it high, and when you think the almonds &c. are properly incorporated and the liquor is fine, bottle it off. To make it more like the French noyeau, use Cognac brandy, and the kernels of apricots, nectarines, and peaches.


Take cloves, nutmegs, and cinnamon, of each- one ounce, coriander add: caraway seeds, two ounces each, four ounces of bitter almonds bruised, half a pound of liquorice root sliced, ten pounds of loaf sugar, and six gallons of British spirits; add also a little saffron to make it the usual colour; fill up with water; let these ingredients digest for some time, say one month, stirring them continually, afterwards filter them through a flannel bag.

Aniseed Cordial

Take one ounce of oil of aniseed, and kill it with a pint of spirits of wine, as directed in peppermint, ten pounds, of loaf sugar, seven gallons of British spirits, one in five, one ounce and a half of alum, powdered, then rummage it well, and fill up with water.

Poppy Syrup

Gather about eight quarts of fresh poppies, cut off the black parts of them, put them in a three gallon jar, and fill up with brandy, there to digest for a week, occasionally shaking the jar; filter it through flannel, and press the poppies to extract all the juice, clarify in two quarts of water three pounds of fine loaf sugar, put the contents in a clean cask or jar, and add a small quantity of cinnamon. In the course of a few weeks it will be fine and fit to bottle.


Take one ounce of cardamom seeds, two ounces of Seville orange peel dried, two ounces of gentian root, and steep the whole in two gallons of British gin, there to digest till wanted.

Excellent Bitters are made as follows.

Take a cask that will hold six gallons, and put into it five gallons of reduced gin, one pound and a half of bitter almonds bruised, four ounces of chamomile flowers, and a quarter of a pound of dried lemon peel; put them into the cask to digest, shaking it occasionally, and if not found to be bitter enough, add any of the ingredients that appear most wanted, and filter the same through blotting paper. If publicans were to keep it filtering in a clean decanter in the bar, they would sell it as fast as it would filter; it is a most capital bitter for purl.

Stomachic Tincture  

Make up in the same way as the above, with the addition of two ounces of bruised rhubarb, and also peruvian bark.

Imperial Nectar

Take six gallons of British spirits, six pounds of loaf sugar, one pound of bitter almonds, two ounces of lemon peel, one ounce of cloves, two ounces of cinnamon and six nutmegs; the cloves and cinnamon to be bruised, and the nutmegs grated: fill up with orange or raisin wine, shake the same till the ingredients are properly incorporated, and then let it stand till fine and fit for use. The colour ought to be that of brandy, which can be made so with burnt sugar, or brandy colouring.


Take three pounds of celery cut into small slices, half an ounce of mace, one ounce of cinnamon, one ounce of caraway seeds, four pounds of loaf sugar clarified, four gallons of British spirits, fill up with water, shake it occasionally, and then let it stand to digest, and when fine it will be fit for use. 

Cinnamon Cordial

Take a quarter of a pound of dried lemon peel, cardamom seeds four ounces, and half an ounce of cassia lignea killed with spirits of wine, five pounds of clarified loaf sugar, four gallons of strong British spirits, then add saffron to colour, and water to fill up ; agitate it occasionally, and when well incorporated, let it stand till fine: this is considered a very pleasant cordial.

Clove Cordial

Take three gallons of British spirits, one quart of cherry brandy, quarter of a pound of cloves ground to powder, three pounds of loaf sugar, then fill with water, and let it stand till fine

Wormwood Cordial

Take three gallons of rectified spirits, two pounds of loaf sugar, two pennyweights of oil of wormwood to be killed, one ounce of caraway seeds, one ounce of coriander seeds, four ounces of bitter almonds, then fill up the cask with water, let it steep for a fortnight, occasionally shaking it, and when clear it will be fit for use.

Gold Water

Three quarts of Cognac brandy, one in eight, half an ounce of cinnamon, quarter of an ounce of cloves, one drachm of saffron, and one pound and a half of loaf sugar, let these ingredients be put into a vessel to digest, shake it daily for ten days, and then filter it through cap paper. Add to the quantity when filtered enough pure water to make up five quarts.

Orange Cordial

Take two dozen Seville oranges, six lemons, pare off all the yellow part of the rinds, steep the same in the best French brandy for about a week, clarify five pounds of the best loaf sugar, then squeeze all the juice from the oranges and lemons,, and put the whole into the cask, add also three quarts of water, and fill up- with the best brandy, let it stand for three or four months, then bottle it off, and it will be a very fine cordial.

Excellent Lemonade

To the rinds of ten lemons pared very thin, put one pound of fine loaf sugar, and two quarts of spring water boiling hot; stir it to dissolve the sugar, let it stand twenty four hours: covered close; then squeeze in the juice of the ten lemons, add one pint of white wine, boil a pint of new milk, pour it hot on the ingredients, when cold, run it, through a close filtering bag, when it will be fit for, immediate use.

N. B. By using about three Seville oranges to the above, you will impart to it a very agreeable perfume, but in general it is preferred unscented, and made from lemons only.

Citron Cordial

Take four quarts of French brandy, and add the following ingredients to make up two gallons: six citrons, one pound of Turkey figs, half a pound of prunes, quarter of an ounce of cloves, and two pounds of loaf sugar, then fill up with water.

The above ingredients, excepting the sugar, must be bruised in a mortar to a pulp, and steeped in part of the spirit for some time before being put into the cask.

N. B. If you wish it to be of a verdant hue, you must use the liquor of boiled spinage, and substitute a rectified British spirit in place of brandy, and leave out the prunes.

Clary Cordial

Take a handful of clary flowers, and steep them in brandy for about a week; then put into the cask half an ounce of ginger, quarter of an ounce of cinnamon bruised, two pounds of loaf sugar, one gallon of brandy, and then fill up with water.

9 Replies to “Regency Mixology”

  1. which begs the question, did they ever sober up long enough to have hangovers if they hadn’t managed to poison themselves with things like turpentine and oil of vitriol in the meantime…

  2. For my latest post about Victorian slang, I waded through a book on the subject. I would say a fifth of the words were devoted to drinking and getting drunk. How did they function…

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