Hippocras Recipe: A Medieval Drink

Imagine you're a fourteenth century official (make up whatever job that makes you feel grand), and you've been riding through the forests of the lush, green English countryside for a couple of days. You get to the iron gates of a fine estate, go through them, ride up to the doorway, where a servant takes your horse. 

You shake off the dust from your trousers and boots and knock firmly on the wooden, iron-riveted door. You're beckoned in, and handed a glass of this, for refreshment. 

(OK, in Medieval times I know people didn't drink out of glasses but wooden or (if you're lucky), silver cups but glass looked better for the photo). 

Hippocras, a spiced wine drink, dates back to ancient times and was also thought to be beneficial to health. 

To make this one, just pour a couple of glassfuls of red or white wine into a jug and stir in a pinch each of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, black pepper, ground cloves and ground nutmeg. Swirl in a teaspoon of honey and allow it to sit, overnight if you can. 

When you're ready to drink, just strain the spices from the wine through a fine cloth (or, in modern times, a coffee filter or similar). The flavours of the spices will be infused in the drink. 

Some Hippocras recipes call for the wine to be heated, others not. The inspiration for this one came from The Forme of Cury, from a recipe dated 1390. I've offered a more modern version, tweaked the quantities of sugar and spices, but it'll still give you a feel for the spiced drink used in celebrations. 

Interested in Medieval history? I explore the women who lived during the Wars of the Roses conflict in the fifteenth century, in my book Forgotten Women of the Wars of the Roses, published by Pen and Sword. Something to read while you sip on your hippocras.  Order your copy here. 

Tried this recipe? Let me know what you think! 

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  1. People DID have access to drinking glasses in the 14th Century. Rare, yes, but they did exist in England.


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