First and foremost among compound drinks, with regard to priority of date, stands Hydromel, the favourite beverage of the ancient Britons, which is probably the same as that made and used at the present day under the name of Metheglin, a word derived from the Welsh Medey-glin, and spoken of by Howell, who was Clerk to the Privy Council in 1640. In ancient times, however, this compound was made by simply diluting honey with water; but, at the present day, substances are usually added to it to cause it to ferment; and when made in this way, it differs little from mead or bragget.
Recipe for Metheglin.
To nine gallons of boiling water put twenty-eight pounds of honey, add the peel of three lemons, with a small quantity of ginger, mace, cloves, and rosemary ; when this is quite cold, add two tablespoonfuls of yeast. Put this into a cask, and allow it to ferment; at the expiration of six months, bottle it off for use.
Another favourite drink in olden times was that called “Lamb’s Wool,” which derived its name from the 1st of November, a day dedicated to the angel presiding over fruits and seeds, and termed ” La Mas-ubal,” which has subsequently been corrupted into “lamb’s wool.”
Recipe for Lamb’s Wool.
To one quart of strong hot ale add the pulp of six roasted apples, together with a small quantity of grated nutmeg and ginger, with a sufficient quantity of raw sugar to sweeten it ; stir the mixture assiduously, and let it be served hot.
Of equal antiquity, and of nearly the same composition, is the Wassail Bowl, which in many parts of England is still partaken of on Christmas Eve, and is alluded to by Shakspeare in his ” Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In Jesus College, Oxford, we are told, it is drunk on the Festival of St. David, out of a silver-gilt bowl holding ten gallons, which was presented to that College by Sir Watkin William Wynne, in 1732.
Recipe for the Wassail Bowl.
Put into a quart of warm beer one pound of raw sugar, on which grate a nutmeg and some ginger; then add four glasses of sherry and two quarts more of beer, with three slices of lemon; add more sugar, if required, and serve it with three slices of toasted bread floating in it.
Source: Cups and their customs, 1863