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)
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!
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!