Edward Spencer.

The Flowing Bowl online

. (page 8 of 15)
Online LibraryEdward SpencerThe Flowing Bowl → online text (page 8 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


more of rum, one pint of brandy, one pint of sherry, half a pint of
lemon juice, the expressed juice of a peeled pine-apple, one pint of
green tea, one pound of sugar dissolved in one quart of boiling water,
the whites of two eggs beaten up, one quart of boiling milk. Mix well,
let it cool, strain through a jelly-bag, and drink, or bottle off.


_Restorative Punch._

[This is another Oxford recipe, and used to be the favourite potion of
the embryo Gladstones and Roseberies, before proceeding to discuss the
affairs of the nation at the “Union.” There is “no offence in’t.”]

Extract the juice from the peeling of one Seville orange and one
lemon; the juice of six Seville oranges and six lemons, six glasses
of calves’-feet jelly in a liquid state, and about half a pound of
loaf-sugar; put the whole into a jug, pour on it one quart of boiling
water, and then add one pint of old brandy. Stir well together, and
use.


_Almond Punch._

Extract the juice from the peeling of one Seville orange and one
lemon by rubbing loaf-sugar on them; the juice of six lemons and one
Seville orange, one bottle of capillaire, and a quarter of a pound of
loaf-sugar. Put the whole into a jug, and when well mixed pour upon
it three pints of boiling {111} water. Cover the jug close, and keep
it near the fire for a quarter of an hour. Then add three ounces of
sweet, and half an ounce of bitter, almonds, blanched and pounded fine
in a mortar, and gradually mixed with a bottle of old brandy. Stir
well, and it may be used immediately.


_Egg Punch._

[Also once a favourite beverage at the universities.]

One quart of cold water, the juice of six lemons and six oranges, four
glasses of calves’-feet jelly in a liquid state; stir the whole well
together; let it remain covered over for half an hour, then strain
through a hair sieve, and add one bottle of capillaire, two glasses
of sherry, half a pint of brandy, and one bottle of orange shrub. Put
some pulverized sugar and ten fresh hens’ eggs into a bowl, beat them
well together, and gradually unite the two mixtures by keeping the
eggs well stirred as it is poured in; then whip it with a whisk until
a fine froth rises, and if sweet enough it is fit for immediate use.

This punch should be drunk as soon as made, for it will not keep sweet.

Omit the wine and spirits, and freeze the remainder, and a delicious
mould of ice may be obtained.

The above can be converted into


_Shrub Punch_,

of a superior quality, by the simple omission of the eggs.

Details are wanting as to the composition of the {112}


_Rack Punch_

of which Jos. Sedley partook so freely at Vauxhall, and which put a
temporary stop to the carryings-on of the fascinating Miss Sharp with
the susceptible Anglo-Indian. Thackeray does not tell us if this was
an abbreviation of Arrack Punch. My own idea is that brandy and rum—of
inferior quality—entered into it; although, as mentioned in a previous
chapter, “rack” is the “Cheshyre Cheese” synonym for gin. But I should
be inclined to back arrack. At all events this is one of the component
parts of a


_Vauxhall Punch_

of which the recipe is in my possession.

A large tumbler, one wine-glass of old brandy, one ditto of old rum,
one ditto of arrack, the juice of half a lemon, and a tablespoonful
of sugar. Mix, strain into two small tumblers, and fill up each with
boiling water.


_Uncle Toby._

Here is another encouragement to the bile industry:—

Rub the rind of one lemon on two lumps of sugar, put the sugar in
a large tumbler with the juice of the lemon, and dissolve in one
wine-glass of boiling water; then add one wine-glass of brandy, one
ditto of rum, and two dittoes of hot stout; mix well, strain, and add
more sugar if necessary. {113}


_Victoria Punch._

Throw into a bowl one lemon cut in slices, free from pips, two ounces
of sifted sugar, two wine-glasses of boiling water, one wine-glass of
hot milk, one wine-glass of old rum, and one ditto of ancient brandy;
keep stirring whilst adding the ingredients; strain and serve.


_Yorkshire Punch._

I have not yet met this in the North Riding; but it is never too late
to copy a good recipe.

Rub the rinds of three lemons on a quarter of a pound of lump-sugar,
and place the sugar in a bowl with the thin rind of one lemon and
of one orange, the juice of four oranges and of ten lemons, six
wine-glasses of calves’-feet jelly, and two quarts of boiling water.
Mix thoroughly, strain, and add a pint of rum, a pint of brandy, and a
bottle of orange shrub. Sweeten to taste.


_Champagne Punch._

Pare two lemons very thin, and steep the peel in one pint of rum.
Add a wine-glass of sherry, half a pint of brandy, the juice of
four lemons, a little capillaire, as much boiling water as you may
fancy—play light with the kettle, lads—sweeten to taste, and last
thing of all pour in a bottle of champagne.

The above will act as a restorative after a hard day’s hunting. Later
in the evening the true sportsman may feel ready and willing to tackle
a glass or two of the celebrated {114}


_Halo Punch_,

whose praises continue to be sung throughout the land.

With a quarter of a pound of sugar rub off the outer rind of one lemon
and two Seville oranges. Put rind and sugar into a large punch bowl
with the juice and pulp; mix the sugar well with the juice and one
teacupful of boiling water (just enough to melt it) and stir till cold.

Add half a pint of pine-apple syrup, one pint of strong green tea, a
wine-glass of maraschino, a liqueur-glass of noyeau, half a pint of
“Liquid Sunshine” rum, one pint of old brandy, and a bottle and a half
of “the Boy.” Sweeten to taste, strain, and serve.

Do not, oh! do not boil the above before serving, as did some Cleveland
friends of mine, on the night of a certain Ebor Handicap. The result of
this was a considerable amount of chaos.

The above was the favourite tipple of the Prince Regent at the
beginning of the present century.

{115}




CHAPTER XI

STRANGE SWALLOWS


“Wormwood!” — The little green fairy — All right when you know it,
but⸺ — The hour of absinthe — Awful effects — Marie Corelli — St. John
the Divine — Arrack and bhang not to be encouraged — Plain water — The
original intoxicant — Sacred beverage of the mild Hindu — Chi Chi —
Kafta, an Arabian delight — Friends as whisky agents — Effervescent
Glenlivet — The peat-reek — American bar-keeper and his best customer
— “Like swallerin’ a circ’lar saw and pullin’ it up again” —
Castor-oil anecdote — “Haste to the wedding!”

We will now proceed to consider certain weird potations, some of
which I have personally tested, others of which not all the wealth of
Golconda, Peru, and Throgmorton Street would induce me to sample of my
own accord, and all of which bring more or less trouble in their wake.

Gall and wormwood have been closely allied from time immemorial;
and it is in accordance with the eternal fitness of things that the
consumption of


_Absinthe_

should be almost entirely confined to France. And what is absinthe?
Merely alcohol, in {116} which have been macerated for a week or
so the pounded leaves and flowering tops of wormwood, together with
angelica root, sweet-flag root, star-anise, and other aromatics. The
liquor is then distilled, and the result is the decoctions sacred to
the “little green fairy,” who has accomplished even more manslaughter
than the Mahdi, the Khalifa, and the Peculiar People, put together. Of
all the liqueurs absinthe is the most pernicious; and with many other
sins it occupies some time in taking possession of its victim. Like Mr.
Chevalier’s hero, you “have to know it fust,” and after that the rest
is easy. Like golf, “scorching,” and gambling, once you “get” absinthe,
it gets you, and never leaves you whilst you last; and there is a
weird, almost tragic, look about the milky liquid, when diluted with
water, as to suggest smoke, and brimstone, and flames, with a demon
rising from their midst. But it is only “the little green fairy”; who
is, however, as deadly and determined as any demon.

The best absinthe is made in the canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and
is not made entirely from Wormwood proper, but from a mixture of plants
related to it—such as Southernwood (“Old Man”), and another which takes
its name from the invulnerable Achilles. But the merry Swiss boy knows
a trick worth two of drinking absinthe; so the French get the most of
it, whilst some goes to America, and some to the foreign quarters of
our great metropolis. The French soldiers learnt to appreciate it, from
drinking it as a febrifuge, during the Algerian campaign, 1832–47,
and it afterwards became, {117} gradually, a popular drink on the
boulevards, where the five o’clock gossip-hour at the _cafés_ came to
be known as “the hour of absinthe.” Its use is now forbidden in the
French army and navy, and no wonder. The evil effects of drinking it
are very apparent: utter derangement of the digestive system, weakened
frame, limp muscles, pappy brain, jumpy heart, horrible dreams and
hallucinations, with paralysis or idiocy to bring down the curtain.

In that seductive, though gruesome book, _Wormwood_, Marie Corelli
gives a most graphic picture of an _absintheur_, once a gay young
banker, who, through trouble of no ordinary kind, gradually came under
the spell of the “green fairy.” I forget how many murders he committed;
but his awful experiences and hallucinations will never leave anybody
who has read the book. He is haunted for some days by a leopard who
accompanies him on his walks abroad, and who lies down at the foot of
his bed at night-time—the “jim-jams,” in fact, in their worst form.

“There are two terrible verses,” says a writer on the subject, “in the
Revelations of St. John.

“And the third angel sounded his trumpet, and there fell a great
star from the heavens, burning like a lamp, and it fell upon a third
part of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters. And the name of
the star is called Wormwood; and the third part of the waters became
Wormwood, and many men died of the waters because they were made
bitter.”

Which seems a very appropriate quotation; {118} yet will men drink of
the waters, for although absinthe makes the heart grow blacker, and the
pulse more feeble, men—and, occasionally women—will continue, as long
as there is a world, to do the thing they ought not to do. With which
moralising let us pass to the next objectionable drink,


_Arrack._

This is an East Indian name, derived from the Arabic, for all sorts of
distilled spirits, but chiefly for the “toddy,” or palm-liquor obtained
from the cocoa-palm, as also from rice, and the coarse brown sugar
known to the natives as “jaggery.” “Toddy,” when fresh, is a delicious
drink, and bears no sort of relationship to whisky-toddy. An almost
nude male swarms up a cocoa-palm—assisted by a rope which encircles his
ankles and the trunk of the tree—early in the morning, and fetches down
the vessel which has been fastened up atop, overnight, to catch the sap
which has dripped from the incisions made in the tree. That sap, in its
raw state, is delicious—especially with a dash of rum in it, but it
ferments rapidly, and usually turns sour in three or four days. Then
the natives distil, and make “arrack” of it—a liquor which is sold in
the bazaars and drunk on the occasion of a _burra din_, or festival.
Nor is its use confined to natives. The British soldier drinks it,
_faute de mieux_; and occasionally the British officer.

Poor B⸺, who was in my old regiment, had fuddled himself into such a
state of stupidity, that all liquor was forbidden him by the doctor’s
{119} orders. I, who shared his bungalow, took particular care
that these orders were carried out, and threatened his _bearer_ and
_khitmugar_ with fearful penalties should they convey any surreptitious
alcohol to the _sahib_. Still he managed to get it; and it took me a
week to find out _how_. His _syce_ (groom) used to smuggle arrack from
the bazaar, and hide it under the horse’s bedding in the stable; and
whenever I was away from the house, poor B⸺ used to creep over to the
stable, and “soak” there!

An imitation arrack may be made by dissolving 10 grains of benzoic acid
in a pint of rum; but arrack is just the sort of fluid which ought not
to be imitated. Give me the honest, manly, simple, beautiful Bass!


_Bhang_,

another dreadful East Indian drink, and a deadly intoxicant, is
distilled from hemp; and if it had only been round the neck of the
inventor before he invented it, society would have benefited.


_Saké_,

the favourite beverage of the Japs, who got it from the Chinese,
and improved upon it, is not a desirable swallow. It is a rapid
intoxicant, but the over-estimator rapidly recovers the perpendicular.
_Saké_ was handed round as a liqueur, at the much-advertised banquet
of the “Thirteen Club”; but it is said that the liqueur was in no
subsequent request. Not even one of those {120} daring and adventurous
mirror-smashers and salt-spillers express the desire to take-on _saké_
“in a moog.”


_Vodka_

is the “livener” of the Russian peasantry, and is distilled from—what?


_Plain Water_,

whether fortunately or otherwise, comes under the heading of “Strange
Swallows.” It is still consumed in prisons, and other places where
sinners and paupers are dieted at the expense of the ratepayer. And
hard as are the ways of the transgressor, his daily “quencher” is even
harder. “Plain water,” wrote a celebrated Mongolian of his day, “has
a malignant influence, and ought on no account to be drunk.” More
especially if it be Thames water. I once saw a drop of this, very
much magnified, displayed on a stretched cloth, in a side-show at the
Crystal Palace. In that drop of water I counted three boa-constrictors,
a few horrors which resembled giant lobsters, and a pair of turtles
engaged, apparently, in a duel to the death. Three ladies in the front
row of the stalls, at that exhibition, were carried out, swooning.

Whether cold water ought to be drunk, or not, I am bound, as a
tolerably truthful chronicler, to remark that very few folk who can
obtain any other sort of tipple do drink it.

It has been claimed by the Brahmins that {121}


_The Original Intoxicant_

was evolved from the climbing bindweed of Hindustan, one of the
convolvulus family. From this was made a liquor called _Soma_, which
is still the sacred beverage of the Hindus. It is the Persian _Haoma_,
and, I should imagine, “absolutely beastly” to the Christian taste.
Everybody knows the Christian bindweed—the stuff you get in your garden
when you set potatoes, or early peas.

Pulque, which is the sap of the aloe, is the favourite drink of
the Mexicans. In Kamtchatka the natives drink (or used to drink)
birch-wine, which has been already described in these pages. The
Russians, also, are very fond of birch-wine; and their’s effervesces,
like champagne.

In Patagonia they drink


_Chi Chi_,

a cider made from wild apples. Pits are dug, and lined with the hides
of horses, to prevent any liquor escaping, the apples are thrown in,
and left to decay, and ferment, “on their own.” The Patagonians have
an annual “big drink” of this dreadful mess, besides many smaller
boosing-bouts. And upon these occasions the Patagonian ladies are in
the habit of hiding all the knives and lethal weapons they can find,
and retiring, with their children, into the woods, until their lords
and masters and other relatives have drunk themselves mad, and then
slept themselves sober again. {122}

In the Caucasus district there be strange drinks made from mares’ milk,
sparkling—such as _Koumiss_, or otherwise. But these beverages do not
have a large sale in other districts.


_Kafta_,

which hardly comes under the heading of “swallows,” is in much request
amongst the Arabs, especially in the neighbourhood of Yemen. These
people boil the leaves and stems of the _kat_—a shrub about ten feet
high, which is planted in the same ground as the coffee—and chew them.
All visitors are presented with twigs of this _kat_ plant to chew; and
the drawing-room carpet suffers terribly.

“Very pleasant sensations” are, it is said, caused by this custom,
and the effect is so invigorating that the Arab soldier who goes in
steadily for _Kafta_ can do “sentry go” all night without feeling
in the least drowsy. Whether the soldiers of the Khalifa did much
chewing on the night before the battle of Omdurman deponent sayeth
not. Frequently the _kat_ leaves are boiled in milk sweetened with
honey, and the result is the same. The infusion is intoxicating, but
the effect is not of long endurance; and at a synod of the most learned
Mahomedans it was pronounced lawful for the faithful to chew, or drink
_Kafta_, “as, whilst it did not impair the health nor hinder the
observance of religious duties, it increased hilarity and good humour.”
Sly rogues, these followers of the Prophet!

If a man wants to retain his old friends and {123} to make fresh
ones let not that man take to selling wines or spirits on commission.
Some years ago I gave an old schoolfellow an order for a case of
Scotch whisky, which he declared upon oath to be absolutely the best
procurable. Home came the whisky, and the first cork was drawn. Pop!
The stuff was literally effervescent, like champagne, or Russian
birch-wine. “My dear,” I observed to the partner of my joys and cares,
“we had better not drink much of this.”

At the next Sandown Park race-meeting I met the whisky agent, who, I
forgot to mention before, was a bit of a stammerer.

“And wh-wh-wh-what,” he asked, “d’you think of that wh-wh-wh-wh-whisky?”

Stammering is occasionally to be caught.

“I think,” was my reply, “it’s the d-d-d-dashedest m-m-m-muck I ever
t-t-t-t-tasted.”

“Wh-wh-what’s the m-m-m-matter with it?”

“It f-f-f-fizzes like g-g-g-ginger p-p-p-pop.”

“My d-d-dear sir,” he protested, “that is no dr-dr-drawback. That’s the
p-p-p-peat-r-r-reek.”

Peat-reek or no, that whisky was not used for household purposes-not
even for the Christmas pudding; but was kept for the special benefit
of such police-constables, Inland Revenue officers, process-servers,
tax-gatherers, book agents, and retailers of certain winners, as might
call around, with a thirst in them.

Strange whisky reminds me of the American story of the proprietor of
a spirit-store in Arizona, who found the ordinary brand of “Rye” was
not sufficiently attractive to his customers. So he fitted together a
blend of his own, consisting of {124} essence of ginger, capsicums,
croton oil, snuff, carbolic acid, pain-killer, turpentine, and a little
very young and very potent spirit distilled from old junk. He placed a
bottle of this on the counter, and the first customer who came along
helped himself to a tumblerful, and, taking it “straight,” swallowed it
at a gulp.

As soon as he had got his second wind, he gasped out: “That’s the best
doggoned whisky I’ve sampled in this yer camp. Sonny, guess you’ve
fixed me up to rights. It’s like swallerin’ a circ’lar saw and pullin’
it up again. So long.”

And with the tears pouring down his cheeks, and holding on to
his diaphragm with both hands, he staggered into the open. The
saloon-keeper watched him from the doorway, until he had passed the
second block, and rounded the corner; and returned to his counter and
his bottles, with the pious exclamation: “The Lord be praised.! He
hasn’t died in our parish!”

No chapter on strange drinks would be complete without the following
story, which, I confess at the outset, is one of the most venerable of
“chestnuts.” It appeared in the _Sporting Times_ four-and-twenty years
ago, and I will not affirm that it was strictly original even then. It
has since been translated into every known language; but it is just
possible that some of the rising generation may not have heard it.

A well-dressed gentleman entered a chemist’s shop one morning,
evidently in a violent hurry.

“Can you make me up a dose of castor-oil?”

“Certainly, sir,” said the dispenser, with a bow. {125}

Whilst he was going through the usual motions—no prescription can be
properly made up until the chemist has overhauled every bottle on
the top shelf, opened most of the empty drawers, and upset a tray of
tooth-brushes—the customer was fidgeting about the shop, and fanning
himself with a scented pocket-handkerchief.

“It’s infernally hot,” he said presently, “and I don’t think I ever
felt so thirsty in my life. Can I have a bottle of lemonade?”

“Certainly, sir.”

More sorting of bottles. Presently “pop” goes a cork, and the sparkling
lemonade is poured into a mammoth tumbler. The customer drains it at
once.

“Ah-h-h!” he crowed, wiping his mouth. “I feel a bit better now.”

A pause. Presently he asked:—

“Have you made that up yet?”

“What, sir?” asked the chemist.

“Why that stuff—the castor-oil I ordered.”

“You’ve had it, sir.”

“Had it? Wotty mean?”

“I gave it you in the lemonade, sir.”

“Great Scotland Yard!” exclaimed the customer. “I didn’t want it for
myself—I’m going to be married in half an hour!”

{126}




CHAPTER XII

“THE BOY”


Definition of the youth — The valley of the Marne — An Archbishop
in sparkling company — All is not cham. that fizzes — Beneficial
effects of Pommery — Dire memories of the Haymarket — The bad boy at
York — A hair of the canine — The good boy — Gout defied — Old Roman
cellars — A chronic bombardment — Magnums to right of ’em — Duties
of the disgorger — Simon the cellarer — Fifteen millions of full
bottles — Pro-dig-i-ous! — Gooseberry champagne a myth — About Médoc
— The ancients spelt claret with two “r’s” — Hints on adulteration —
“Château Gubbins” — New wine — Gladstone claret — “Pricked!”

“See how it sparkles, this drink divine,”

sings Giroflé, in Lecocq’s opera; and although the sparkling liquor
therein is described in the text as “punch”—which does _not_ sparkle
much as a rule—I have no doubt whatever that what Lecocq, or his
librettist meant, was the grateful liquid which is described in
different circles of society as “fiz,” “Simpkin” (the nearest approach
a Mahomedan table-servant can make to “champagne”), “a bottle,” “golden
pop,” and “the Boy.”

Here let me interpolate the commonly-received {127} interpretation
of the last-named title. At a shooting party, a stout urchin of some
fifteen summers was specially told off to carry the liquid refreshment
for the shooters, which took the form of Perrier Jouët in magnums. And
so frequent were the calls of “Boy!” that morning, that the youth threw
up his situation before noon.

D’you believe it? Not a word of it? Same here. At least I never
attended a “shoot” at which the gunners steadied their nerves by the
aid of choice vintages—before luncheon, at all events; and I don’t mean
to begin now. Champagne was probably called “the Boy” because of its
free, happy, joyous, loose-and-careless characteristics. The sparkle
represents youth, and the froth irresponsibility; whilst the whole⸺ but
never mind about the whole, just now.

The Champagne district, as some people know, lies on the chalk hills
which surround the valley of the Marne. The townlets of Epernay, Ay,
and Château Thierry owe their prosperity to these seductive wines,
and Rheims has attained world-wide celebrity, as much from being the
centre of the champagne industry as from being the seat of the premier
ecclesiastic of France, the Archbishop of Paris. So far, guide-book.

The champagne-vines are short and stunted, the grapes being small,
but most prolific of juice. A third, and even a fourth, crushing will
yield a very delicious wine, to an uneducated palate; and this is the
inferior liquor which is sold to tourists in Rheims at the equivalent
of one shilling and fivepence per large bottle. It is a sweet—what
{128} connoisseurs call a “lady’s” wine, which an expert would not
taste a second time; and its aftermath, its effect on the imbiber the


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryEdward SpencerThe Flowing Bowl → online text (page 8 of 15)