any moons ago , I had a relative try to fix me up with a wealthy farmer , also a distant cousin (!) I was turning into an old maid at 25 and I needed to be tamed and turned into a good little wife. It reminded me of the opening line from Pride & Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune , must be in want of a wife” , I insisted I would only marry for true love or not at all parental units and societal norms be damned!
Pride and Prejudice is first and foremost a tale of one family’s struggle to marry off not just one but five daughters ,Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist of this story and thought to be based on Jane Austen herself, was ahead of her time she was known to have singular beliefs , to be uncompromising and stubborn as well as intelligent , witty and handsome, she was what one would call a strong woman . These days the western world at least is filled with many such examples , thank fully we no longer have to wait for a dashing man on a horse to whip us up in their arms and wend us away to a make believe land of parties, dresses , dancing and a life lived on an overstuffed wing armchair. Lizzie Bennet of course would have been mucking in and getting her hem dirty rather than idling away as a lady of leisure , its because of her willingness to be a participant of life rather than an observer that she is one of my idols,we have a lot in common , passionate, check, stubborn, check, willful, check, love getting my hands dirty, check, have no patience for nonsense , weakness, ignorance and mediocrity , check all of the above.
During the story we also meet a cast of hilarious and wicked characters, Mr. Collins the ridiculous pastor, Miss Bingley the meddling aristo, Mrs. Bennet the reactionary , always in a tizzy mother, Mr. Wickham the opportunist cad and the pompous Lady Catherine De Bourgh. My solution to all this drama would be to feed them all a jolly good drink and in so thinking about what they may have enjoyed I took myself on a history lesson of drinks of the early Eighteenth century when the book is set, before Whisky and Vodka were widely imbibed spirits , the time when the Sangaree was in a fashion and a cobbler was fruit filled drink rather than a pastry topped dessert.
In the study with Mr. Bennet
In a shaker tin, muddle powdered sugar, cherries and verbena leaves . Add everything else plus a couple of ice cubes, shake for 5 seconds then dump into a glass of choice , pack full with ice and garnish with verbena sprig
Jane, Jane! Don’t get caught in the rain!
The next time we see the clan Bennet the ladies are having a good old knees up ( dance) at the local town hall dance and its here that the dashing and rather shy Mr.Bingley falls head over heels for Miss Jane Bennet the eldest of the five daughters. He is intoxicated by her beauty and demeanor and she too is smite in return. His BFF Mr.Darcy is another story, he looks like he has a bad smell under his nose, could it be not enough deodorant in this room plus lots of smelly socks after all that twirling around ? I don’t think its the smell that has him turning his nose up, it is here we first witness the prejudice of the books title, he comes across as being too hoity toity to be bothered with these dancing minions, it is only until he spies the lovely Elizabeth that he bothers to take a second glance at anything . Cut to the next morning and Jane has received an invite to dine with Mr.Bingley’s sister Caroline ( who we later learn is a bit of a minx) . The sly Mrs.Bennet realizing its about to rain sends Jane off on horseback instead of safely in a carriage, she figures Jane will get soaked and need to spend the night and more time at the Bingley household, her scheme works like a treat , Jane catches cold and has to recuperate Chez Bingley nursed by the sweet Mr.B himself. Jane would be in need of a warming cuppa, so I whipped up this hot port Sangaree to give her some cheer….
A Sangaree, is the 18th century precursor to the better known Sangria, named after the Spanish word for blood , Sangre. A Sangaree should contain wine, beer, port or madeira, lemon , sugar and either hot or cold water. In this case I used hot for Jane’s cold remedy. I made my trusty Jello stock cubes for that just add water instant experience .
The Loving Cup
28 grams of Knox unflavored gelatin
1 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup madeira
1/3 cup St. Elizabeth allspice dram
1 cup ruby port
2 cups blueberry or hibiscus tea
2 heaped tablespoons of brown sugar
sliced apples and black pepper for garnish
The trick to remember for any boozy jello shot is that 1/3 of your mix can be boozy and the remaining 2/3 should be a mix of juice or low ABV liquids, too much liquor and the jello will not set.
add the gelatin powder and armagnac/brandy and allspice dram to a bowl and allow the gelatin to bloom, meanwhile add red wine , lemon and OJ to a pan with falernum and bring up to a simmer, once simmering take off the heat and pour into the bowl where the gelatin is blooming. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir in the sugar till dissolved.
Prepare your cube molds with a bit of vegetable spray which will help pop the Jello cubes out easily, wipe out any excess oil. For the molds I usually us the Tovollo silicon 1″ cubes molds.
Pour the Jello mix into the molds and allow to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours .
Once ready to drink, boil some water and steep your fruity tea ( I like blueberry but hibiscus just as tasty). Take three cubes and places them in a cup with an apple slice and a twist or two of cracked black pepper. Pour over the hot tea and stir to dissolve the cubes, should take about a minute.
Mr.Bingley by this point is so head over heels for Jane that he’ll agree to anything , so when the younger Bennet sisters insist he throw a ball he cannot refuse them, any opportunity he can get to be with his love. Mr.Darcy is also clandestinely planning to woo Miss Eliza, though as we know she’s a proud and stubborn young lass so his task ahead will not be an easy one. Mrs B is beside herself and can’t stop twittering on about favorable matches and imminent weddings , oblivious to Le Toute Monde her chatter is picked up by siss Bingley who sets about unravelling her brother’s tied and bound heart. Mr.Darcy meanwhile is intent on stealing some time with Lizzie so he asks for a dance, Lizzie politely accepts but the whole episode just seems to annoy her and she finds Darcy quite pompous , Darcy, obviously bowled over by her beauty and honesty starts falling for our girl. When dreaming up this next drink I thought about the time period, the whimsy and romanticism of the early 18th century, the time of Napolean and in England the Georgian era, anything served as somewhere as grand as Netherfield would need to be fittingly pretty and whimsical, for a large group a punch is of course the best choice, fruity, light, refreshing and easily tarted up with flowers and trim.
1 cup Brandy
1 cup lillet rose
1/2 cup velvet falernum
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
brandied cherries halved
grilled pineapple cut into 1/2″ pieces
heartsease pansies and leaves to decorate such as strawberry or mint
3/4 cup lemon peel oleo-saccharum
3/4 cup lemon juice
Lightly muddle pineapple with falernum, add remaining ingredients and stir, the ice once you place it in the glass will provide your water component . The punch mix should be stored in a fridge to get it cold before serving. To serve add add to a punch cup, pour over a small ladle of punch mix and decorate .
After the ball, we learn the Bingleys have decided to winter away from the hall and head back to London, Miss Bingley has managed to persuade her brother that Jane is not a good match for him or the family. In desperation Mrs. Bennet decides to send Jane off to London to visit with her aunt and uncle in the hopes she will bump into Bingly. At the same time Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte gets married off to a hilarious character and pastor who’s parish belongs to Darcy’s Aunt, with both Jane and Charlotte gone Lizzie’s life becomes quite boring as she spends her time reading and well, doing some more reading. So she decides to pay a visit to her friend and in so doing bumps into Mr.Darcy who has by this point fallen head long into love with Miss Elizabeth, at this point in the story he irks her even more by proposing, what a preposterous thought, in this mindset sh of course refuses! Lizzie later learns that Darcy is not such a meddling twerp and starts to see him as a real gentleman, ( for the full story you really have to read the book) At the same time the youngest Bennet sister gets sent of to Brighton to entertain the regiment . Lizzie returns and shortly after goes on a tour of the Midlands ( my old stomping ground) with the afore mentioned aunt and uncle ( remember who Jane gets sent to visit?) They decide to visit Pemberley one of the grandest houses in Derbyshire and also coincidentally Darcy’s family home. Of course Lizzie bumps into him and meets his sister, their acquaintance quickly starts to turn to friendship and more as the visit continues . Meanwhile back in Brighton , Lydia, the youngest Bennet has eloped with the wicked Wickham and are living in sin, he hopes she has money that he can drain her of, she fantasizes of marriage and security , the news reaches Lizzie on her travels and she rushes back to the bosom of her family in an attempt to undo the pending scandal, Darcy, ever the gent goes galloping off on his steed to be the knight in shining armor and save the day. Mrs .Bennet at this point is having a nervous collapse, no amount of fanning or smelling salts seems to be doing the trick so I thought perhaps a drop of brandy right do the trick for this mother in need of solace.
A crusta is a drink that has a sugar rimmed glass, most often a classic crusta contained some for of brandy of armagnac. You have two choices on how to achieve your perfect crusted glass, pour a generous amount of sugar into a bowl bigger in diameter than the glass your drink will go in, you can rim your glass with a lemon wedge and either sprinkle the sugar onto the surface or dip the gas into the bowl of sugar. Don’t over do the lemon rimming or you will end up with a sloppy crusta rather than a nice dry rim. Brandy is the traditional tipple after someone has had a shock or is in a nervous state.
Mother’s lil’ Helper
1 1/2 oz Germain Robin craft method brandy
3/4 oz yellow chartreuse
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz pineapple gomme syrup
3 dashes orange bitters
1 oz egg white
Rim your glass with sugar and set aside. In your shaker tin add all ingredients and dry shake for 5 seconds. Add 4 ice cubes and shake for a further 8 -10 seconds. Strain into your sugar rimmed glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
The shades of Pemberley poluted.
Darcy succeeds, I mean he has the dosh and pays off Wickham, forcing him to marry and make an honest woman of Lydia,( if you can call a fifteen year old a woman) . After ascertaining that Jane is truly in love and a good match , he also gives Bingley the nudge to go and propose to her making both of them a quivering mess of tears. Darcy meanwhile saunters off dreaming of his Lizzie and wishing she would be his. Later on that night Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh shows up unannounced to grill Lizzie about Darcy’s proposal of marriage to her, and how dare she make her nephew fall in love. Lizzie, tells the old bird pretty much to buzz off and that if she decides she’ll marry whosoever she chooses to. Darcy hearing this news marches back over to the Bennet household to declare his love, love, love for her. Elizabeth accepts his second proposal and the book ends with both Bennett sisters happily married to the two honorable gents. For their wedding cocktail I wanted to do a cross between the classic English Pimms cup and something with a celebratory ring to it, here a mix of cucumber, lemon balm , gin and bubbles.
A fizz is defined as a drink that contains citrus and carbonated water, or in this case carbonated wine
The Longbourn Fizz
Rather than have a muddy brown Pimms colored fizz i thought i would add the Pimms and some cucumber juice to an ice cube tray instead to make Pimms cubes, I used the 1 ” square silicone trays from cocktail kingdom.
For the cubes:
1 cup cucumber juice
1/2 cup pimms
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
stir everything together and pour into the ice cube trays, let set over night for best results.
For the drink:
1 1/2 oz bols genever
1 oz lemon,
3/4 oz simple syrup
1 oz Floc de Gascogne ( an armagnac grape based aperitif )
2 dashes celery bitters
strawberry slices for garnish and muddling
lemon balm for muddling (mint will do if you can’t get lemon balm)
add a strawberry slice and 6 leaves of lemon balm to your tin and muddle with the simple syrup, add remaining ingredients and shake for 5 seconds with 2 ice cubes, strain into your ISI or twist and sparkle and carbonate . In a chilled highball glass add your pimms cubes, about 4 per drink. Pour over the carbonated cocktail and garnish with strawberries and a lemon balm sprig