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Spice Mixes for Wine & Cider, with 2 Cups


Ypocras (also known as Hypocras) is made by mixing wine with sugar and spices, most notably cinnamon, and possibly heated, and is is what we recognise today as a ‘mulled wine’. After steeping the spices in the sweetened wine for a day, the spices were strained out through a conical cloth filter bag called a manicum hippocraticum or Hippocratic sleeve, originally devised by the 5th century BC Greek physician Hippocrates to filter water, hence the name Hippocras. This recipe is based on one from the Forme of Curye from the early 1390s, and so is probably the earliest surviving recipe. It was usually made with red wine, but can be made with white wine, and served hot or cold.


Clarrey is made by adding wine to honey and spices; the name comes from the Latin vinum claratum, which means ‘clarified wine’. The name survives today as ‘claret’, a dry, red wine. This Clarrey recipe comes from the 14th century collection of recipes, The Forme of Cury, written in the 1390s. Clarrey - or "claree" - is mentioned by Chaucer in both the Knight's Tale and the Merchant's Tale. “He drynketh yppocras, claree, and vernage (sweet Italian wine), Of spices hoote, to encressen his corage” (Chaucer, Canterbury Tales). Try it hot or cold.


Lamb's Wool is a drink that dates back far into medieval times and is variously made with ale or cider. It is the drink normally associated with Wassailing on Twelfth Night. The 17th century poet, Robert Herrick gives a recipe for it for Wasailling: “Next crown a bowl full, With gentle lamb's wool: Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger, With store of ale too; And thus ye must do, To make the wassail a swinger”. There is debate about the origin of the name, whether it relates to Lammas (1st August), but it more likely refers to the appearance of the baked-apple pulp on the surface of the drink.


The cups included with the spice mixes are hand made by one of the best British potters reproducing medieval and other historical pottery today. John Hudson has been researching and reproducing historical pottery for over 45 years. These cups are ‘Surrey Whiteware’, which was particularly popular in the London area during Tudor times. 


Spice Mixes for Wine & Cider, with 2 Cups

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  • Ypocras (each spice bag makes 750ml)

    1. Place one of the spice bags in a saucepan and add a bottle of red (or white) wine. 
    2. Add 6 or 7 tbs of Demerara sugar.
    3. Bring the wine slowly almost to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. You can leave the bag in longer for a stronger flavour.
    4. Remove the spice bag, and pour the Ypocras into glasses and serve.

    Clarrey (each spice bag makes 750ml):

    1. Place one of the spice bags in a saucepan and add a bottle of sweet white (or red) wine. 
    2. Bring the wine slowly almost to the boil, occasionally stirring gently.
    3. Allow the wine to cool for a few minutes, or up to 24 hours, allowing the spices to infuse with the wine.
    4. Remove the spice bag, and pour in 170-340g of clear honey.
    5. Return the mixture to the heat and bring back to just below boiling. Remove from the heat and serve.
    6. The Clarrey can be served hot or cold. It improves with bottling for a few days or weeks. A sediment of spices will sink to the bottom of the Clarrey.

    Lamb's Wool (makes 500ml)

    1. Add the spice mix to 500ml of apple juice or cider.
    2. Slowly bring to the boil and serve .
    3. For a truly authentic taste, add some baked apple to the drink before serving.
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