Sir Walter’s Cordial Water

When actively following the directions for A Cordial Water of Sir Walter Raleigh (A Queens Delight in The Art of Preserving, Conserving and Candying, 1671 by a WM *****) one realizes that it is a LOT of strawberries.

“Take a gallon of Strawberries, and put them into a pint of Aqua vitæ, let them stand for four or five days, strain them gently out, and sweeten the water as you please with fine Sugar; or else with perfume.”

And now I’ve moved from being a small batch beverage recreator to a REALLY small batch beverage recreator.

This recipe doesn’t seem right. But Ima gunna follow it to the letter, bottle the result and then do a second infusion with the (massive) quantity of berries that it uses. 

Because it wants a gallon of berries. A GALLON. To ONE PINT of aquavite. And even with imperial measurements (which I’m using, of course) it’s kind of insane.

I mean, I read that as an 8:1 ratio of berries to liquid. I’m doing 2.4 US cups of strawberries to 1/3 cup liquor.

But here we go anyway.

These are the strawberries. They came from my mother’s garden. They are small, very sweet, and smell amazing. Even these were somewhat of a sacrifice.
Strawberries and the amount of brandy called for in this recipe – 1/8 the volume of the berries. (It looks like more in the image but it’s close.)
There’s the 8:1 ratio of berries to liquid.

My berries are home-grown from my mother’s garden – they’re small and I’m not willing to sacrifice a whole gallon (like, the whole pick is less than a gallon!) of them, which is why I reduced the quantities so much — I went to the largest amount I could really spare of such precious and hard-won things.

Commercial berries would have a very different flavor I think – these smell like field berries even though they’re cultivated.

This was paneled at the Great Northeastern War July 2015 and  had a score of 73.


On the Milk of the Red Cow

Magnus the Stout, who is a great brewer and an amazing re-creator of period brewing, posted some great info about the milk of a red cow, a thing required in the Snail Water.

“So Aneleda’s got this snail water recipe that she wants to inflict on us. I applaud such efforts and eagerly await disgusting snail goop.

The recipe calls for “red cow’s milk,” and there’s some question as to what that means.

Well, here’s an interesting blog with a pamphlet from 1655 that includes a medicine with the same ingredient – the milk of a red cow.

This is for a smallpox treatment, so perhaps they thought red cows had some special healing properties.”

We’ll include this in our research as to why on earth this recipe is so.

Take the Milk of a red Cow

A Snail Water for weak Children, and old People

_A Snail Water for weak Children, and old People._

Take a pottle of Snails, and wash them well in two or three waters, and
then in small Beer, bruise them shells and all, then put them into a
gallon of red Cows Milk, red Rose leaves dried, the whites cut off,
Rosemary, sweet Marjoram, of each one handful, and so distil them in a
cold still, and let it drop upon powder of white Sugar candy in the
receiver; drink of it first and last, and at four a clock in the
afternoon, a wine-glass full at a time.

A Queens Delight - The Art of Preserving, Conserving and Candying. As also, A right Knowledge of making Perfumes, and Distilling the most Excellent Waters.

So, there’s this recipe for a Snail Water…..

And I’m going to make it.


Oxymel – circa 9-10 century from Cild’s Anglo-Saxon Leech book

Recipe for oxymel from the "Leechdoms, wortcunning, and starcraft of early England. Being a collection of documents, for the most part never before printed, illustrating the history of science in this country before the Norman conquest. Collected and edited by the Rev. Oswald Cockayne, 1864"
Recipe for oxymel from the “Leechdoms, wortcunning, and starcraft of early England. Being a collection of documents, for the most part never before printed, illustrating the history of science in this country before the Norman conquest. Collected and edited by the Rev. Oswald Cockayne, 1864”


This recipe and documentation was for the paneling by the East Kingdom Brewers’ Guild at Great Northeastern Way 2013. Their suggestions are below the documentation…

Period, circa 9-10 century from Cild’s Anglo-Saxon Leech book

This “southern acid drink” and “southern Italkini drink wrought of vinegar and honey” of was a base for some medicinals, as well as one all on its own, suggested for hiccups and spewing, among other things. The additions are numerous including a variety of worts and also radishes, and rind of alder, but I chose to make the plain, simple hiccough remedy and cure for the “half dead disease.”

“If a man be sick of the half dead disease or epileptic, work him Oxymel, a southern acid drink, a mixture of vinegar and honey and water.  “Take of vinegar, one part; of honey, well cleansed, two parts; of water, the fourth part; then seethe dow

n to the third or fourth part of the liquid, and skim the foam and the refuse off continually, until the mixture be fully sodden. If thou wish to work the drink stronger then put as much of the vinegar as of the honey and use the leechdom either for this disorder or for full nigh any one.

Take always of the acid drink, so wrought, as much as may seem good to thee.

For these disorders put a radish into the liquor of the drink; let it be in for the space of a night; then give in the morning to the sick man, after his nights fast, the radish so liquored to eat, as he best may; and then when the radish is gone, poir thou hot water on the remains of the liquor; give it to the sick man to drink to the full….”

Translation from Leechdoms, wortcunning, and starcraft of early England. Being a collection of documents, for the most part never before printed, illustrating the history of science in this country before the Norman conquest. Collected and edited by the Rev. Oswald Cockayne, 1864


“Take of vinegar, one part; of honey, well cleansed, two parts; of water, the fourth part; then seethe down to the third or fourth part of the liquid, and skim the foam and the refuse off continually, until the mixture be fully sodden. If thou wish to work the drink stronger then put as much of the vinegar as of the honey…”


1 cup vinegar
2 cups honey (generic commercial honey)
1 cup water

The whole mix was put in a non-stick pot and boiled for 15 minutes; foam skimmed at that point and about every 5 minutes or so until the mix had reduced by roughly half. (Or what looked like half in the pot.)

The mix ratio is important for tasting. A blog about this beverage (with mint) suggested 8 oz water and 1 oz of syrup for a pleasing beverage. This mix is appropriate, because if too much it is very strong, and if too dilute the taste is, according to my taster, “ok but if beige were a taste this would be it.”

It is a pleasant enough thing cold when properly mixed; warm it would be a lovely base for a hot toddy. I did not have hiccups to test, though I expect I will be in a state to try it as a half-dead disease remedy at some point.

Preparation for the Panel

Take a glass of cold water, mix the drink so it is roughly 1:8 syrup to water and stir. I did this with a silver cup and metal spoon, with regular water from the event site.  The act of mixing the syrup made an impression on the panel as it is an extra step. While my original vessel was not very period, the serving vessel into which I prepared the beverage was moreso, which actually caused one adjudicator to adjust his score in my favor.

It was the first non-alcoholic beverage so paneled in memory and received a Craftsman level score. What would have improved the score would have been:

  • Use a more period source of honey, like a local beekeeper, or best of all, keep bees (this has to do with the complexity part of the scoring)
  • Make the vinegar myself from wine, or better, make the wine from which the vinegar would come
  • Present it in a more period vessel (I brought it in a clear bottle which had a snap-cap, like on a Grolsch bottle) such as a ceramic bottle or an amphora – the latter of which I actually even have, and in ceramic even- doh!
  • Bring the radish. I actually had radishes with me, and should have prepared one glass of the half-dead disease cure, because that would have been one more thing similar to the original recipe. (And also likely funny as all get out.)

I do plan to try this again with some of those suggestions in mind, maybe not pitching wine and making vinegar, but with using locally sourced honey and home-made wine vinegar at least. The panel did  enjoy the beverage though, which is really the point in the first place!


I found the recipe online here:

The text is here:

A table is well enough furnished where the flagons are filled with good malt liquor ; it is flat heresy, they say, to discover mischief in University ” particular :” but, notwithstanding, the Saxons drank also mead, an exhilarating beverage, which from its sweetness must have been better suited to the palates of the ladies, and which was of an antiquity far anterior to written or legendary history. They had also great store of wines, which they distinguished by their qualities, as clear, austere, sweet, rather than by their provinces or birth. They made up also artificial drinks, oxymel, hydromel, mulled wines, and a Clear drink, or Claret/”^ of the nature of those beverages which are now called cup.

Of hiccupings. Hiccup comes on either by reason of re- pletion, or of emptiness, or of austere juices biting upon tlie stomach, and when these are vomited forth it ceases. Many also by only taking the medicine called ” by the three ” peppers,” if immediately on that they swallow wine, hiccup. It is also a recognized fact, that some turning their food sour,

hiccup ; and many also hiccup after shivering.We shall find then that a vomit is a sufficient cure for those who liiccui^ from repletion or irritation ; and the application of warmth for those that do so from chill. But when the hiccup comes on by fulness of moistures, it needs a violentevacuation ;

and this sneezing produces ; but sneezing does not cure the hiccups which depend on emptiness. Give thesufferer from hiccup rue with wine, or nitre in sweetened wine, or seseli, or carrot, or cummin, or ginger, or calamintha, or Keltic valerian. These arc proper for the cases in which food turns sour on the stomach, or for chill, or for emptiness. But for those that suffi^r by repletion Avith cold and viscid humours, give castoreum, three obols worth, and to drink some oxymel, etc. “voided, inasmuch as they have a bad etfect in clo.sini; Book il. the inwards, and they collect the swelling, and it doth not easily disperse,^ hence neither apples nor wine must be given, since they have a hot breath or (ironia. The man must take a not sharp wine ; one must also give him some oxymel, which is a southern or Italkni drink, wrought of vinegar and of honey : and when the burning of the heat bcginneth to wane away, chiefly through the mie, he must have lettuces and the inward part of southern poppy. Tokens that the swelling in the liver may not abate, nor run off; that that man hath a heavy sore in the parts of the nether liver, even as if he were weighted with something of a burden in the right side, and he hath not a heat of fever in these parts. To such a man must be given the drinks and the leechdoms, which we taught one should use for the insensible hardness begun in the liver ; with them let him make the obstructive mischief nesh. If any one applietli the leechdom Avhich unlocketh and draweth out the obstinately lodged matters, before he hath made nesh the badly hardened swelling, he weeneth that he is amending it ; hut if there be aught left of the hard inatter, he amendeth it not, but harmethj and with the leechdom he drietli the hu- mours, and the swelling becometh as hard as a stone, and it cannot be dissipated nor be made nesh.”

“In case that the upper part of the bell}’ is filled with evil sordid humour, a thing which hap- peneth to the men who in much continued drinking take nutritious meats, or who spew, and chiefly after meat, and who are subject to nausea, they are all over blown as tvith wind, and the wamb is extended and they frequently have breakings. To these men one must give oxymel with radish ; that is a southern leechdom : and then they soon spew up the thick cor- ruption, and it is well with them. Work up the leech- dom thus, from vinegar and from honey ; take the best honey, put it over the hearth, seethe away the wax and the scum, then add to the honey as much vinegar, so as that it may not be very austere nor very sweet ; mingle together, and set by the fire in a crock, boil upon good gledes, clean and lively, till Lhe TTiixture be mingled, so that it may be one, and have the thickness of honey, and on tasting it the austere sharpness of the vinegar may not be too evident. If the wamb is full of wind, that cometh from luke- warm humour ; the cold humour worketh sores. For that shall one seethe cummin in ale, and seed of march, and seed of more o?’ carot, and of dill. If the chill be greater, then add rue, and leaf of laurel, and seed of fennel sodden in oil. Then if the disease still annoy, introduce this through a pipe or a horn, as…

If however the distention from the vv^ind cometh suddenly, then these things cannot help, since that will turn into dropsy. If one applieth the warming leechdoms to that, then one eketh or augmentetk the disease. For a miltsiek man, one must give him vinegar in the southern leecli- dom which hight oxymel, which we wrote of against the half dead disease and disease of the bladder. Take rind of laurel, and dry mint, and pepper, and seed of rue, costmary, and Ao7’ehound, and centaury, that is herdwort, or by another name, earthgall, chiefly the juice of it, add these worts to the before named leech- dom into the ooze. Thou mayest see where we have spoken of the before named diseases, how thou shalt prepare the oxymel. Seethe in water rind of alder until there be of the water a third part unboiled away, and then give a good jug full of it to be drunk at three times ; leave always a days space between the doses. This same is beneficial for a loinsick man. Again, of the black ivy, first three berry bunches, next five, then seven, then nine, then eleven, then thirteen, then fif- teen, then seventeen, then nineteen, then twenty-one, give them so, according to the days, to be drunk in wine. If the man have fever also, give thou him the little grains of the ground ivy in hot water to drink. This same is good for a loinsick man. Again, give him to drink earthgall sodden in wine. Again, boil betony in wine, give him that to drink.Again, when the mUt becometh upblown, soon it will harden, and then it is not easy to cure, when the blood hardeneth on the veins of the milt: then treat it with the before named worts, mingle the good worts with oxymel, the southern acid drink, which we before wrote of, they will cure the milt and will do away the thick and livery ‘ blood, and the evil humours, not by the mie only, but also by the other evacua- tion passage or outgang. Lay on externally the lesser herdwort beaten up. Take also roots of clover, put them in vinegar, and goat treadles, then work them to a salve, and add thereto barley meal ; give the man also this in wine to drink.


This beverage was paneled at GNEW in July 2013 and received a score of 71.7.


Blackberry Pear Cordial

This cordial was submitted to the InterKingdom Brewer’s Guild at Pennsic in 2010 where it received a score of 96.

Chief among its criticisms were that the pear overwhelmed the blackberry, which was only a small, light note at the end.  It was not a cloying thing, but quite light. The pear was hellish to clarify, and eventually I settled for just siphoning carefully.  I had a good amount lost because of the pear mung, which hung on the bottom of the bottle like some galactic nebula.  All in all, it was a really nice little thing though.

Blackberry Pear Cordial
1 handful blackberries (aprox. 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
4 pears, sliced with cores discarded
750 ml brandy
250 ml simple syrup (2 c. white granulated sugar to 1 c. water, boiled until clear)

I took the berries, which had been frozen, placed them and the four pears in a wide-mouthed
jar, adding 750 ml of brandy. Later in the day I added the cooled symple syrup. I lightly swirled
the bottle every couple of days. It sat on a shelf for about three weeks, before attempting to

Straining was an utter disaster. The regular strainer took the berries and large chunks, but
there was excessive sediment. I poured the mix through coffee filters, but there was still so
much sediment that it was terrible to behold.

In frustration, I left it in a corner of the kitchen counter for about 18 weeks. When I saw that
the mung had settled, I siphoned what I could from the batch. The result was four small bottles
of this blackberry pear cordial, and one slightly larger bottle of cloudlike mung.

In the future, I would put the pears in cheesecloth or something to start with perhaps. Or get
a chemical-grade filter. Or just make a larger batch knowing I will have to siphon it to clear.

I made strawberry cordial last year, and found it pleasant. It was based on the recipe ‘Cordial
of Divers Berries,’ based on 1655 (?) recipe of ‘A cordial water of Sir Walter Raleigh’ (the latter
shown on reverse). However, I am not partial to strawberries, especially. I am however excessively
pleased with blackberries, so I used commercially frozen blackberries (which always tasted
like good blackberries to me, flavorful) and then decided that the bosc pears I had worked
nicely boiled in wine, so why not toss them into the cordial. I’ve seen other parings of blackberry
and pair in deserts, so it seemed like a good idea.

The recipe was rougly inspired by the basic cordials in ‘A Queen’s Delight’ (see the pdf documentation)
and these recipes below.

Pear Cordial
Cut unpeeled pears in quarters, and add them to a large glass
jar. Fill the the jar with brandy, to cover the fruit. Make sure
it’s completely covered.- no pieces floating on top.
Allow it to macerate (sit) for two weeks, shaking it up each
day. Press in usual manner then sweeten if desired with a
simple syrup or jazz it up with a vanilla or ginger syrup.
Syrup is 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. For vanilla syrup add
one split vanilla bean to syrup as you make it. For ginger
syrup, add sliced, peeled fresh ginger to taste. depending on
how hot you like it, anywhere from a two inch piece sliced to
up to a cup. Your choice.
Simmer/boil for 15 minutes or so til it thickens up, let it cool
with the vanilla or ginger in it, then strain and add it to the
pear brandy. Decant to smaller bottles.
I’m so making this! DF always has the best recipes for
yummy drinks.

Lady Aneleda Falconbridge
Shire of Endewearde
mka Monique Bouchard
Pear Cordial
Gode Cookery
PERIOD: Modern | SOURCE: Contemporary Recipe |
CLASS: Not Authentic
DESCRIPTION: A cordial of pears and spices
3 fresh pears (or 6 dried pears)
2 cups sugar, dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 orange
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. whole coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 whole peppercorn
2 cups 80-proof vodka
Remove seeds and dice pears. Put in a glass jar along with
spices and peel from 1 orange (avoid the white pith). Add
vodka, cover, and leave for 2 weeks. Strain through cheese
cloth and add sugar solution. Leave until clear.