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turtle-soup from snails and conger-eels, is not likely to get “left”
in a matter of distilling. A great deal of brandy is, therefore, made
in the tight little island from ordinary grain alcohol, by adding
Argol—I’ll tell ye what this is presently—bruised French plums, French
wine-vinegar, a little—a very little—good cognac, and redistilling. I
believe that it is also possible to extract a good midnight sort of
brandy—specially recommended for roysterers—from coal-tar and paraffin.

The Americans make brandy from peaches and other stone-fruits, good
wholesome liquor, but their French cognac is not to be recommended. For
it is nothing more nor less than the common whisky which America has
exported to France, sent back again, after the necessary treatment.
Fact. {76}

Argol, mentioned just now, is a crude variety of cream of tartar which
forms a crust within wine-vats and bottles. Originally it exists in the
juice of the grape, and is soluble therein; but during the fermentation
of the juice, and as it passes into wine, much alcohol is developed,
which remaining in the fermenting liquor, causes the precipitation of
Argol. Thus the “crust” of port wine is Argol, the principal uses (and
abuses) of which are in the preparation of (besides cognac) cream of
tartar and tartaric acid. And malicious people say that you have only
to scratch French brandy to find the Tartar.

A few years ago a German chemist discovered that a very drinkable
brandy can be made from sawdust—whether deal sawdust or any description
of dust does not appear; and under the heading, “A New Danger to
Teetotalism,” an American journal published the following effusion:—

“We are a friend of the temperance movement, and want it to succeed;
but what chance can it have when a man can take a rip-saw and go out
and get drunk with a fence-rail? What is the use of a prohibitory
liquor law if a man is able to make brandy-smashes out of the shingles
on his roof, or if he can get delirium tremens by drinking the legs of
his kitchen chairs? You may shut up an inebriate out of a gin shop and
keep him away from taverns, but if he can become uproarious on boiled
sawdust and desiccated window-sills, any effort must necessarily be a
failure.”

I can believe in the ability of most German chemists to do most
things; and possibly {77} sawdust is used in the Fatherland for the
manufacture of lager beer, Rhine Wine, and—but ’tis a saw subject.

The pure brandy at Cognac is divided into two principal
classes—“champagne” brandy, from grapes grown on the plains, and
“bois” brandy, the product of wooded districts—I am _not_ alluding
now to sawdust—and the last-named variety is subdivided into many
different names. It takes eight and a half gallons of wine to furnish
one gallon of spirits; and the ravages of the vine-louse have made a
terrible difference in the supply. In fact, the amount produced in 1897
was about one-tenth of the amount produced twenty years previously.
But thanks to beet-root, potatoes, and—other things, the distiller
manages to “get” there just the same. But the man who wrote in 1889,
prophesying the speedy disappearance of pure _eau de vie_ from the
market, was probably not far wrong. “It would seem on the whole,”
he wrote, “that unless the phylloxera be stamped out, pure brandy
will soon be a thing of the past.” But they do not tell you this in
saloon-bars, and places where they drink.

It was stated by Mr. Dewar last year (1898) that there were 89,000,000
gallons of whisky lying idle in bond because sufficient suitable
water to dilute it to the orthodox strength could not be found. This
statement is calculated to give a moderate drinker the gapes; whilst
Sir Wilfrid Lawson and others must have longed for permission to set
fire to every bonded warehouse in the Kingdom. But the same great
authority {78} on the wines of bonnie Scotland made another statement
at the same time which is eminently calculated to remove all fears
lest whisky, like brandy, be on the down line. “The serpent Alcohol,”
remarks a writer in the _Daily Telegraph_, in discussing Mr. Dewar’s
speech, “may have been scotched”—was this meant for a joke?—“but it is
far from having been killed.” According to the Ex-Sheriff’s statistics
the distillation of Irish whisky, despite its diminishing popularity,
has increased during the last fourteen years by about thirty per cent;
while in Scotland during the same period the increase has been at the
rate of nearly eighty per cent. Ireland, that is to say, which produced
eleven million gallons in 1884, now produces fourteen million and a
half gallons; while the Scotch output, which was eighteen million
gallons in the former year, had risen in 1898 to the enormous figure
of thirty-three millions and a half. Hech sirs! these be braw figures
indeed.

Yet let not the British be held up to reprobation as hard drinkers, as
long as France is a going concern. Statistics prove that in Scotland,
the land o’ the barley bree, the consumption of spirits during the year
1892–93 averaged a little more than twelve and a half pints per month,
which is little more than the proportion of spirits required by the
Parisians, without wine, absinthe, and—other things. The boulevardiers
are called “temperate,” although they drink as much spirits as do the
Scots, and thirty times as much wine, not to mention cider and beer.

Distilling in Britain dates from the eleventh {79} century, but in the
beginning it was worked solely in the monasteries by the jovial monks.
What a good time those monks of old would seem to have had! According
to the popular prints they were usually engaged either in fishing,
eating oysters, drinking out of flagons, catching beetles, confessing
pretty women, or being shaved; and we know that their abiding-places
were built, for the most part, on the banks of a river which absolutely
swarmed with salmon or trout, in the midst of a district teeming with
game. Any how the monks made spirits, or “strong waters” as they were
called in those days, first.

Pure malt whisky is, and has been, made almost exclusively in Scotland.
In Ireland they use about one-third of malt to two-thirds of oats
and maize. In England they make whisky of pretty nearly everything,
including German spirit, petroleum, and old boots; whilst in gallant
little Wales—well the only acknowledged Welsh whisky I have tasted was
excellent in quality, and apparently made from pure malt. Distilling,
as a trade, commenced in England during the Tudor period, and from
the reputation bluff King Hal bore for feathering his nest, it is
probable that the industry was fully taxed. In 1579 Scotch distilleries
were taxed for the first time. In Ireland as far back as the eleventh
century the natives made _uisge beatha_—now called potheen—without
interference from landlord or gauger, and continued at it until the
sixteenth century, when licenses were enforced in the cases of _all
but the gentry_, and to run an illicit still was {80} punishable
with death and dismemberment. But they ran ’em just the same; for in
those days an Irishman was never really happy unless he were drinking,
fighting, or being sentenced to death. But whether it was English,
Scotch, Welsh, or Irish whisky, or French brandy, or Dutch gin,
smuggling and illicit distilling were rampant through the centuries,
and the Inland Revenue officer was no more respected or worshipped than
at the present day. Still there has not been much blood shed over those
differences of opinion; except in Western Pennsylvania at the close of
the last century—a period when the greater part of the universe was
fighting about something—when it took 15,000 soldiers from Washington
to quell a riot amongst a populace discontented with the Excise
regulations.

Blending and diluting whiskies are for the most part done in the bonded
warehouses. “All commercial spirit,” says an authority on the subject,
“however pure, contains a small proportion of impurities” (which
sounds Irish) “or by-products of distillation known as fusel-oil.”
It will relieve the minds of some to know that fusel-oil is merely a
by-product of distillation, and not the “low-flash” stuff which causes
the accidents with the cheap lamps. It used to be thought that during
the “maturing,” or “ageing,” of whisky the constituents of fusel-oil
underwent decomposition; but my good friend Doctor James Bell, C.B.,
the chief Government analyst at Somerset House (he retired some three
years ago), utterly refuted this theory by analysis.

Whisky is, like brandy, naturally white, and {81} takes its trade
colour, and, to a certain extent, flavour, from the sherry-casks in
which it is matured. It is also coloured by the direct addition of
caramel (burnt sugar), or a maturing wine.

In America, Rye or Bourbon whisky is made from wheat or maize grown
in the Bourbon country, Kentucky, and some of it would kill at forty
yards. The chief distillery states on the other side of the Atlantic
are Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania.
At the Cape, and throughout South Africa, there is decent whisky
procurable, as also a pernicious compound known as “Square-face” or
“Cape smoke,” and in much favour with the dusky races of the country.
On the Congo, palm-wine—similar to the fermented toddy of the East
Indies—was for centuries the only livener, but with the march of
civilization have come the whiskies of Great Britain, more or less
adulterated; and whereas in the past death by the sword, or the club,
was the only known punishment for the subjects of the native tyrants
who are so fond of thinning out the population, a well-fuselled whisky
is now freely employed for the same purpose.

Although whisky is now freely partaken of all over Great Britain, it
was comparatively speaking despised in England until the first half
of the present century had slipped by. This fact is apparent from
a perusal of contemporary literature. And in no country has “malt”
had such a rise in public estimation as in the great continent of
Hindustan, where “John Exshaw” and “John {82} Collins”—the last named
a seductive compound of gin, limes, Curaçoa, and soda-water—have
been almost knocked out by John Barleycorn and Jean Pomme-de-terre.
Until the visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, brandy was almost the
sole potation of the heroes who helped to hold the big wonderland,
the old-fashioned _brandi-pani_ gradually giving place to the brandy
diluted with _Belati pani_, or “Europe water.” Thirty years ago a “peg”
meant a brandy-and-soda; but whisky has now usurped the proud position
once occupied by the products of John Exshaw, Justerini and Brooks,
and others.

{83}




CHAPTER VIII

OTHER SPIRITS


Old Jamaica pine-apple — “Tots” for Tommy Atkins — The grog tub
aboard ship — _Omelette au rhum_ — Rum-and-milk — Ditto-and-ale — A
maddening mixture — Rectifying gin — “The seasoning as does it” — Oil
of turpentine and table-salt — A long thirst — A farthing’s worth of
Old Tom — Roach-alum — Dirty gin — Gin and bitters — “Kosher” rum
— An active and intelligent officer — Gambling propensities of the
Israelites — The dice in the tumbler — Nomenclature at “The Olde
Cheshyre Cheese” — “Rack” — “Cork.”

We now come to Rum, “superior old Jamaica pine-apple,” otherwise known
as “sailors’ tea”—the spirit in question having from time immemorial
been held in high esteem by mariners both afloat and ashore. Rum is
probably one of the easiest beverages to make, being, simply, fermented
and distilled cane-sugar. Occasionally pine-apples and guavas are
thrown into the still, but in making this spirit on a large scale no
attempts are made to add to its flavour and thereby deduct from the
profits to be made on the commodity. It is coloured with caramel, and
the longer you keep it the better and, therefore, the more valuable, it
becomes. In the city {84} of Carlisle in the year 1865 some rum known
to be 140 years old was sold for £3 : 3s. per bottle.

This is not the brand served out to our army and navy; although the
“tots” issued periodically to Tommy Atkins and Ben Bowline consist of
good, sound liquor, wholesome enough, save for gouty subjects—and a
sailor with the gout would be of about as much use to his Queen and
country as a watch without works—and writing from past experience I
can aver that every drop of liquor, whether ale or rum, supplied in
a regimental canteen had to be previously passed by a committee of
“taste.” In many ships, nowadays, no rum or other intoxicant is served
out; and as no equivalent is given, it might appear as though the
owners made a good thing out of the temperate habits of their crews.
But I do not believe in total abstinence as an aid to work; and I have
never seen a sailor the worse—on board ship—for his “tot.” On the other
hand, in the old days of “Green’s” troop-ships, the old sailing-vessels
which made the voyage to India round the Cape of Good Hope, it was by
no means infrequent for a soldier to be “overcome” by the cane-spirit,
of which he occasionally got rather more than his orthodox allowance.

How was this managed? The thrifty seafarers were in the habit of
selling their grog allowance to the “swaddies”; and as soon as the
ship’s captain found this out, he issued stringent regulations which
it might have been expected would put a stop to this practice. When
all hands were piped to grog a ship’s officer was {85} stationed by
the tub, to see that each sailor drank his allowance. Still there was
intoxication amongst the troops, and it was discovered that many of the
sailors’ pannikins had false bottoms, and that in this way the rum was
concealed. After that the ship’s officer was enjoined to see that each
sailor partook of his tot; but even this precaution failed; for the rum
would be ejected from the men’s mouths into a bucket in the fo’c’sle,
and then sold—a disgusting practice which merited severe punishment,
and frequently obtained it.

We English do not make nearly as much use of rum in cookery as do
our lively neighbours. One of the most approved of _entremets_ is an
_omelette au rhum_, a truly grateful dish, if the omelette be properly
made, although rum be spelt with an “h.” But it is a mistake to use
rum-sauce with plum-pudding, as do the French; for brandy is a far
better digestive of the cloying materials of which the pudding is
composed. As mentioned in _Cakes and Ale_, rum-and-milk is said, by
the chief English authority on dietetics, to be the most powerful
restorative known to man. This may, or may not, be true; I am prepared
to back a judicious dose of “the Boy”—_not_ limited to a “split pint,”
either. But of all horrible mixtures, defend me from rum-and-ale,
which used to be a potion much in favour with the dangerous classes of
our metropolis, in the days when I went “slumming” in search of plain
unvarnished facts. A steaming tumbler of rum and hot water, with a
piece of butter melted therein, was, in my younger days, in vogue as
an infallible {86} specific to eject a cold from the head. Nowadays, I
prefer the cold.

Gin is supposed by students, who do not make practical test of their
learning, to be distilled from malt, or from unmalted barley, or from
some other grain, and afterwards rectified and flavoured. And just as
it was (according to Mr. Samuel Weller) the seasoning which did it in
the case of the cheap pies, so is it the rectifying, and the flavouring
which do it, in the matter of gin. Occasionally “rectifying” is hardly
the right word to use. That there is such a thing as wholesome,
tolerably-pure gin is more than probable; but there is also a very
undesirable fluid sold to the poorer classes, and esteemed by their
vitiated palates, known under different pet names, of which “blue ruin”
and “white satin” are two. This brand of gin is flavoured more or less
with oil of turpentine and common salt. No wonder thirst stalks abroad
next morning!

“In one well-known hostelry,” observes a writer in a daily newspaper,
“situated not a stone’s throw from the Bank of England, you can, if
you be so minded, ask for and obtain a farthing’s worth of gin. It is
served in tiny liqueur-glasses, and the custom dates from the time
when the purchasing power of the coin in question was far greater
than it is now, and when consequently, a farthing’s worth of gin was
considered to be a sufficient quantity for any respectable citizen.
Another public-house, in Bishopsgate Street, is also compelled, by the
terms of its license, to supply a farthing’s worth of either ‘gin,
rum, or shrub,’ to any customer requiring {87} it; while not far away
is a hostelry which is permitted to carry on the dual businesses
of liquor-dispensing or pawnbroking. Yet another City public-house
possesses a sort of annexe where medicines are retailed. Handy, this,
for the unhappy sufferer from swelled head.”

I suppose as the above has appeared in a newspaper, it is strictly
true. But how sad! Although my knowledge of London is “peculiar” I
cannot say I am acquainted with the licensed house in which drawing
drinks and taking in pledges are combined; but I have seen farthing’s
worths of “Old Tom” dispensed in more than one hostelry, to slatternly
women, before my own breakfast hour, and I have shuddered at the sight.
But why stop short at selling medicines in the annexe of a dram shop? I
should have thought an undertaker, in another compartment, might do a
fairish trade.

These are some of the ingredients put into gin, to give it “body,” and
make it “bite”—gin without teeth being notoriously inferior tipple and
altogether unfit for the consumption of the good ladies who are, sad to
say, by far the best customers of the gin retailer:—roach-alum (this
sounds fishy), salt of tartar, oil of juniper, cassia, nutmeg, lemon,
fennel, and carraway and coriander seeds, cardamoms, capsicums, and
sulphuric acid. All these, mind ye, besides the afore-mentioned oil of
turpentine, and the afore-mentioned potato-spirit, which last would
seem to enter into most drinks of the day.

The word “Gin” is really an abbreviation of “Geneva,” under which name
the spirit was at {88} one time known. Not that it is principally
manufactured in picturesque Switzerland, where the watches come from;
but “Geneva” is a corruption of the old French word _genevre_, the
juniper. I used to read, in childhood’s days, that

Juniper berries and barley make gin,

but those ingredients—or the berries, at all events—would seem to be
only regularly used in Holland, nowadays.

“Dirty” gin, of which we used to hear so much, was, I believe, as pure
as any other geneva, and not less clean. Plymouth gin is said to be the
healthiest form of the article, but ’tis an acquired taste, and “Old
Tom” is certainly more toothsome. In entering as fully into details
as I have above I have no wish to discourage the consumption of gin
proper, especially when blended with ginger-beer (an excellent summer
beverage), or doing duty in a cock-tail, a sling, a punch, or a John
Collins. But I am not a “gin man” myself. And to my mind a “nip” less
calculated to promote appetite than any other is a “gin-and-bitters.”

“Kosher” rum, _i.e._ rum treated according to instructions laid down
in the Mosaic Law, is in high favour with the Jews; and in some of the
taverns which abut on the Israelitish quarters which are about Aldgate
there are recognized “rum-rooms.” There used to be, and probably is at
the present day, a considerable amount of card—playing (_spieling_)
or throwing of dice for wagers, carried on in these apartments; and I
once knew a son of Judah who was heavily fined {89} by the stipendiary
magistrate, for gambling on licensed premises. To the day of his death
this Jew protested his innocence of the crime.

He told me the whole story, interlarded with tears and gesticulations.

The _rozzers_ (detectives) raided the rum-room one afternoon, and
created considerable commotion. Some of the imbibers managed to make
their escape, but my informant was not so fortunate. He was seized by
one minion of the law, and shortly afterwards another officer cried:

“See where he has hidden the dice in his tumbler of Old Jamaica!”

“And, may I die,” added the poor Yid, “if the _gonoph_ (rascal) hadn’t
placed ’em there himself—don’t yer beliefe me?”

Of course I did.

Here is another way of employing rum; but you will not be able to shine
at solo-whist afterwards.


_Rum Booze._

The yolks of eight eggs well beaten up, with some sifted sugar, and
a grated nutmeg; extract the juice from rind of a lemon by rubbing
loaf sugar thereon; put the sugar, a piece of cinnamon, and a bottle
of white wine into a clean saucepan, and when the wine boils take it
off the fire. Pour one glass of cold sherry into it, put it into a
spouted jug (I don’t mean hypothecated, but a jug with a spout to it)
and pour it gradually amongst the egg mixture, keeping the whole well
stirred with a spoon as the wine is poured in. Sweeten to taste, and
pour the mixture from one vessel to another until a fine white froth
is obtained. {90}

The recipe continues. “Half a pint of rum is sometimes added, but it
is then very intoxicating.”

But _sans_ rum whence the Rum Booze? Port Wine is sometimes substituted
for white wine, but is not considered so palatable. This liquor should
be drunk when quite hot. If the wine be poured boiling hot among the
eggs, the mixture will become curdled.

_Without_ the rum the mixture is one form of Egg Flip.

When treating of gin I should have mentioned that at one well-known
City hostelry, “The Olde Cheshyre Cheese” in Wine Office Court, Fleet
Street, gin is never known by any other name than “rack.” Why, I know
not. But in the same old tavern should you require Scotch Whisky you
must call for “Scotch,” without mentioning the word whisky; and if
Irish, “Cork” is the password.

{91}




CHAPTER IX

CUPS WHICH CHEER


Claret combinations — Not too much noyeau — A treat for schoolboys
— The properties of borage — “Away with melancholy” — _Salmon’s
Household Companion_ — Balm for vapours — Crimean cup — An elaborate
and far-reaching compound — Orgeat — A race-day cup — “Should auld
acquaintance be forgot?” — Sparkling Isabella — Rochester’s delight —
Freemason’s relish — Porter cup — Dainty drink for a tennis-party.

It is probable that there are almost as many recipes for claret cup as
there are letters in Holy Writ, or acres in Yorkshire. This is the late
Mr.

_Donald’s Cup._

One bottle claret.
1 wine-glass pale brandy.
½ do. yellow chartreuse.
½ do. curaçoa.
½ do. maraschino.
2 bottles Seltzer water.
1 lemon cut in thin slices.
A few sprigs of borage.
Ice and
sugar to taste. {92}

To my taste there is rather too much liqueur in the above. Here is a
simple recipe for


_Badminton_.

Peel half a small cucumber and put it into a silver cup together with
four ounces of sifted sugar, the juice of one lemon, a little nutmeg,
half a glass of curaçoa, and a bottle of claret; when the sugar is
thoroughly dissolved, pour in a bottle of soda-water, add ice, and
drink. The cucumber should not be left in too long, and a sprig or two
of borage will improve the flavour.


_Balaclava Cup._

Throw into a large bowl the thinly pared rind of half a lemon, add two
tablespoonfuls of sifted sugar, the juice of two lemons, and half a
small cucumber, _unpeeled_, in slices. Mix well, and add two bottles
of soda-water, two bottles of claret, and one of champagne; mix well,
ice, and flavour with borage.


_Another Claret Cup._

Put into a large bowl three bottles of claret, a large wine-glass of
curaçoa, a pint of dry sherry, half a pint of old brandy, a large
wine-glass of raspberry syrup, three oranges and one lemon cut into
slices. Add four bottles of aërated water, sweeten to taste, ice and
flavour with borage. This is a good cup for a garden-party, or a tent
at Ascot; and remember always that the better the ingredients the
better the cup. More especially let your brandy be of the right brand.


_Yet Another._

Pour into a large jug one bottle of claret, two wine-glasses of dry


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