Archive | November 2015

Let’s Have a Ball!

Festive Beverages Guaranteed to Raise Your Courage to Ask that “Special Someone” to Dance!

Dateline Netherfield Park, 26 November 2015 or 1811

But what to serve your guests!? It hinges upon, one supposes, just how intoxicated you want them to become? On a cold night, we might at least serve negus to warm and refresh after their exertions. And it must certainly be served if the younger Miss Austen is to attend—she thinks nothing of a ball without negus.

Negus (warm punch)
Port wine
Lemon Juice
Loaf Sugar
Calves-foot Jelly
Grated Nutmeg

Heat until not quite boiling, and serve in a two-gallon footed metal bowl to save the surface of the sideboard from the heat.

In the Regency era, refined white sugar was formed into cones and shipped wrapped in paper. It was quite hard, requiring a hammer to break off chips, and then further cut into smaller pieces using sugar nips.

Of course something warm and nourishing might assuage the guilt of Jane Austen for drinking so very much of it, but it will hardly set the Thames afire, since in her day Port was not fortified as it is now. Perhaps something cool might be more “fortifying?”

Common London Punch
36 Peeled Lemons
2 pounds of Loaf Sugar
1 Pint of Brandy
3 Quarts of Sherbet
1 Pint of Rum

Now that will rejoice the cockles of your heart, and those of your guests. It had to have tasted like candy! As the room warms, serve this strong chilled punch before the supper set, so your guests will soon have something on their stomachs! We wouldn’t want the young maidens in attendance to become inebriated. They might start stealing swords from the officers!

In the Regency Era, bottles of wine and spirits were only three quarters the size they are now (currently 750ml), but still, brandy and rum? The mind reels as well as the legs!

But if you truly want to impress your guests with your wealth and standing, the only punch to serve is Regent’s Punch!


As my pioneer Grandma used to say (think an Oregon version of Lady Lucas), “this will knock your hat in the creek!” Toss back a bumber of this, and you’re anybody’s!

Regents Punch
2 Bottles of Madeira
3 Bottles of Champagne
1 Bottle each of Curaçao and Hock [hock was any German white wine]
1 Pint of Rum
1 Quart of Brandy
4 pounds of Oranges [thank goodness…at last something without alcohol!]
Four Pounds of Lemons
Raisons sweetened with sugar candy
Plus Seltzer Water [to fill the bowl]

Given Prinny’s proclivities, one can imagine those hosting him amping up the alcoholic components to impress him with the thunder of one’s punchbowl. There were over 200 “confirmed” recipes for Regents Punch in 1815. The unifying ingredient in all of them was Champagne, so your author here is predisposed to like any of them. La! I have something in common with the future George IV!

Drink up and Dance!

A Cocktail for Mr. Bingley, or You Are What You Drink

Netherfield’s effervescent host!

Mr. Bingley’s Cocktail, or…You are what you drink.
By Linda Beutler

Now anyone who knows me well will tell you my unrepentantly lust-filled forays into Jane Austen Fan Fiction are in some part fueled by the occasional infusion of quantities of champagne and sparkling wine from countries other than France. (It has recently been posited that three glasses a day prevent Alzheimer’s disease—I am taking no chances this isn’t true.) They will further report I have researched champagne cocktails with a passion usually reserved for collectors of Star Wars paraphernalia or bacon recipes. But here we will not dwell upon the Hugo, the French 75, the Epiphany, or the Raymond Massey. No, let us consider instead the cocktail most aptly seen in the hands of the leaseholder of Netherfield Park, “Seeing Angels”.

In a cocktail shaker ½ full of ice add:

• 1 oz. of London Gin, preferably Boodles or any brand with a silly name.

• 1 oz. of ginger syrup, because, as stated in the title, Mr. Bingley is what he drinks.

• Crush and macerate in a mortar 4 fresh ripe pitted dark sweet cherries (preferably Bing* cherries, as if it needs saying); add to the cocktail shaker.

• Juice of one half of a lemon (No one appears to want a Bingley that is too sweet, if comments at the Meryton Literary Society’s A Happy Assembly are any indication.)

Shake vigourously and strain into a capacious champagne flute (6 ounces at least, 8 ounces is best). I would be neglectful not to mention glassware for serving champagne are supposed to resemble Marie Antoinette’s breasts. Now, whether using a flute or a saucer, one must think her endowments oddly shaped, to say the least. During the Regency era in England, both styles of glassware were used for champagne, so make of that what you will.

Fill the flute with champagne to nearly the rim, and garnish with a pitted and partly split dark cherry.

Once you’ve downed a couple of these, you will be “Seeing Angels” everywhere!

*Bing cherries were developed about half a mile from Linda Beutler’s home, at the site of the old Lewelling Orchards of Milwaukie, Oregon, in around 1875. In England, dark sweet cherries were grown by order of King Henry VIII, who tasted them in Flanders.