A grownup picnic refershment found on BBC food
This delicately coloured, refreshing take on the classic gin and tonic makes a perfect picnic tipple.
A grownup picnic refershment found on BBC food
This delicately coloured, refreshing take on the classic gin and tonic makes a perfect picnic tipple.
It’s the chosen summer drink of thousands of thirsty kids every day, and the chosen rum-based tipple of Charles Dickens himself. You’ll find it in tiny boxes, straws included, or in an overflowing bowl heaped with green sherbet at a retro ladies’ luncheon. The beverage, of course, is punch, and it’s come a long way since British sailors first concocted it in the 17th century. Let’s take a look at the history of punch from rum-filled grog to Hawaiian.
Though it’s mainly known as a non-alcoholic beverage today, punch was invented as a beer alternative in the 17th century by men working the ships for the British East India Company. These men were accomplished drinkers, throwing back an allotment of 10 pints of beer per shipman per day. But when the ships reached the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean, the beer held in cargo bays grew rancid and flat. Once the boats reached the shore, sailors created new drinks out of the ingredients indigenous to their destinations: rum, citrus and spices.
The sailors brought punch back to Britain and soon the drink became a party staple, spreading even as far as the American colonies. Massive punch bowls were ubiquitous at gatherings in the summer months: the founding fathers drank 76 of them at the celebration following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It’s around this time that the first mention of non-alcoholic punches appears, specifically made for ladies and children.
By the Victorian Age, those teetotalling punches ruled the day. Queen Victoria disapproved of strong drink, so alcoholic punches gradually fell out of favor. Frothy egg white-based and sherbet versions grew popular, and continued to be served to ladies who lunched until the 1950s. By that time, cocktail culture was in full effect, and it was socially acceptable for women to drink in public. Punch was relegated to the footnotes of history, only to be resurrected in the 2000s by mustachioed mixologists in cities like New York and San Francisco.
The name has always been misleading – the ‘cham’ part leads many people to assume that the bubbly liquid they are happily quaffing at parties is champagne, when in fact this popular drink is actually perry; alcoholic sparkling pear juice. This confusion actually led to a more serious altercation between the Babycham Company and the gourmand Raymond Postgate. The founder of the Good Food Guide, a once-a-year publication dedicated to searching out the best eateries in the UK, wrote an article in a 1965 edition of Holiday magazine claiming that his readers should know that Babycham looks and is served like champagne, but is actually a pear- based drink. Babycham sued Postgate for libel, stating that he had inferred that the company were trying to pass the drink off as something it wasn’t. Whilst the judge assigned to the case agreed that the wording was derogatory it was agreed that it could be passed as ‘fair comment’ and Postgate walked from court with no punishment.
Largely remembered as a popular 1970s and 80’s drink, Babycham actually hit our shelves and bars in 1953 and had the honour of being the first booze to get a commercial aired on UK television. It almost single-handedly changed UK drinking culture by marketing itself directly at women, targeting them with their first specific ‘ladies’’ drink. Its history actually starts back in the 1940s, however.
Shepton Mallet in Somerset was home to the brewery belonging to the Showering brothers (I promise there will be no jokes about how clean they must have been), Francis, Ralph, Herbert and Arthur. Alongside the normal beer they also produced mineral water and cider and Francis spent time searching for new drinks to bring to the market. He looked into the fermentation of fruit juice, originally to improve upon their cider-making process but as he researched the topic he discovered that he could also make a great tasting beverage from perry pears.
After trying it out in the Bristol area as a test at first, their new alcoholic drink was bottled in 1950. It began its life in large bottles but was later swapped into the familiar small (‘baby’) ones that became its trademark. It was first sent out under the name of Champagne de la Poire but after winning first prize in every important agricultural show in the country people started referring to it as the ‘Baby Champ’. (See where they went from there?)
The Showerings had hit upon a real gap in the market. Up until then the drinks aimed towards women were few; stout, port and lemon, gin or sherry perhaps? Showering’s new sparkling perry was an ideal creation to fill that gap. It could be marketed as a light, fun drink specifically for females – and the cute little deer logo, which appeared on the bottles for its launch in the UK in 1953, just added to that appeal.
In 1957 it made its television commercial debut. It was an example of a truly aspirational brand; its strapline was ‘The genuine Champagne Perry’ and it was shown being drunk in saucer style champagne glasses by stylish and alluring women. The commercial was a success and Babycham’s popularity soared. The little Shepton Mallet brewery had to rapidly expand to keep up with increased demand; the campaign to introduce pear perry to a new (and obviously enthusiastic) audience had worked.
The decades rolled by and the success story continued. The drink and the deer became world famous and the ‘Babycham Babe’ beauty competition was launched in the 1960s. The adverts gained a guest appearance from Patrick Mower (Emmerdale) in the 1970s and further references to the ultimate in cool lifestyles (‘Hey, I’d love a Babycham!’) in the 1980s. Later on the image of the deer was turned into a cartoon; it became a party deer, able to bring a bit of pizzazz to the dullest of social gatherings.
By the 1990s though, the brand was losing ground. By now there were plenty of other cheap and ‘fun’ alcoholic brands on offer and a restriction on television alcohol advertising made it harder for the company to retain their status within the market. In 1993 the brand relaunched, aiming to target a more youthful consumer and a few years later there was a, possibly misguided, attempt to bring the ‘Babycham Babe’ contest back to life. (A West End final crowned model Nell McAndrew the winner in case you were curious.)
The millennium saw a new ‘Popping Cork’ bottle added to the brand.
Dogged determination meant that the name survived, and even began gaining in popularity again. The sudden fashion for retro enabled Babycham to become stylish again – even having a regular night held in its honour at Browns’ nightclub in Covent Garden, London.
A range of clothing was launched in 2001; people could now celebrate their love of fizzy perry pear by wearing underwear, outer clothing and accessories adorned by the blue bow-wearing deer. These caught the eye of the fashion press and Babycham found itself receiving some positive media attention. A new range of shoes and matching bags came along in 2011.
In 2003 Babycham celebrated 50 years of bubbly pear goodness and also began sponsoring the Funny Women Comedy Awards and ten years later Diamond Anniversary commemorative Babycham glasses could be snapped up with their special pack promotion.
By 2011 Babycham was selling around 15 million bottles a year and two new flavours have been introduced, with an emphasis on its 1950’s heritage: ‘hint of cream soda’ and ‘hint of cherry soda’. Yum.
Text from doyouremember.co.uk
When I went to England as a young man back in the very early seventies all decent girls drank Babycham. The ones I dated drank vodka straight or gallons of bitter
Before lattes and cappuccinos, before frappuccinos and espressos there was flavored coffee, ie Irish coffee, still one of the world’s most popular drinks. Yet not that much is known about why and how it became so popular.
Margaret O’Shaughnessy, the Founding Director at Foynes Flying Boat museum in County Limerick, has written to IrishCentral to say the flying boat terminal at Foynes, 35 miles from Shannon, and not Shannon Airport was the location for the first Irish Coffee after we mistakenly said Shannon was where it was invented in a recent article.
The inventor, bartender Joe Sheridan, later moved to San Francisco and worked at the Buena Vista Cafe where journalist Stanton Delaplane of the San Francisco Chronicle had brought back the secret formula from Ireland and started one of the world’s most famous drinks.
Despite it being an incredible success, Delaplane later admitted he couldn’t stand the stuff yet found his name forever linked to it.
Sheridan was a top class chef and bartender whose family had moved from the North to Dublin. When he applied for the chef’s job at Rineanna, the townland in Limerick where the Flying Boat terminal was based, his application came in to CEO Brendan O’Regan for the position of chef and it simply stated, “Dear Sir. I’m the man for the job. Yours sincerely, Joe Sheridan.
It turned out he wasn’t lying. Foynes was the first Irish transatlantic Airport when Pan Am did their first passenger commercial flights from New York to Foynes in 1939 and Joe Sheridan soon became famous.
The Pan Am flying boats were based at Foynes while Shannon Airport was actually 35 miles away. Charles Lindbergh helped choose the two airports for Pan Am but no direct flights from Shannon to the US occurred until 1945, long after Irish coffee was invented
Until then passengers to the US from Europe flew into Shannon and were bussed to Foynes.
In 1943 a flying boat flight to New York turned back due to bad weather and Joe Sheridan, originally from Castlederg in Co. Tyrone – a chef and highly skilled bartender – was asked to come back to Foynes to prepare hot food and drinks for the freezing passengers.
He put some good Irish whiskey into their coffees and was asked by the passengers if he had used Brazilian coffee to which he replied ”No it was Irish coffee.” He then continued to put the coffee in a glass and topped it with pouring cream – thus the Irish coffee we know today was invented in Foynes, not Shannon Airport that night.
Furthermore, in 1952 Joe Sheridan was offered a job in san Francisco at the Buena Vista and he met Stanton Delaplane the journalist who had made his drink world famous.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that after sampling Irish Coffee at Foynes in 1951 Delaplane flew home and he spent a long evening at the Buena Vista Cafe near the foot of Hyde Street working out the proper balance of ingredients. Overnight Jack Koeppler, the late owner of what had been a quiet neighborhood bar, found himself the proprietor of the most prosperous saloon in the city.
Joe Sheridan was even enticed over to the Buena Vista in 1952 and worked there for ten years. He is buried in Oakland, CA. Delaplane, who was the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, died in 1988.
Today the Buena Vista serves up to 2,000 Irish coffees a day. The busiest day they’ve ever had was the Super Bowl in 1982, 49ers vs. Miami. Three bartenders served 109 bottles of whiskey between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The night crew served another 104. There are 29 drinks per bottle. So that means the pub served well over 6,000 drinks that day [6,177 specifically].
All because of a cold night and bad weather, all because of a storm in 1943 that forced a flight to America back to its origin at Foynes Irish coffee became the first flavored coffee drink. One wonders what Joe and Stan would make of all the flavored beans in Starbuck’s these days!
Article by James O’Shea found at irishcentral.com
A refreshing cocktail recipe, family friendly to taste
found on Tesco Real Food
A recipe for a bit of the strong stuff found on BBCfood
Homemade Irish cream is a real treat, served it chilled with plenty of ice or sneak a drop or two into your coffee.
Many Christmases ago, a coworker with a vague Norwegian affiliation first poured me a steaming hot, boozy, sweet, crimson-red concoction so loaded with the fragrance of cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom, it was as though he’d emptied the contents of his winter spice cabinet into the mug.
Slowly, though, that’s starting to change, thanks in part to the efforts of a homesick Swede, a beloved Scandinavian specialty shop, and a restaurant looking to expand beyond its typically all-American cocktail selection.
Martin Geijer started his San Francisco-based company, Geijer Glögg, which produces a glögg liqueur, in large part because he was homesick for the stuff. Geijer explained that in his native Sweden, the drink is rooted in the winter season, when everyone is chilled to the bone. “It really is bloody cold,” he said. Alcohol makes you feel warmer — and all the better if it’s served hot and infused with comforting winter spices.
Here in the East Bay, throwing a glögg party can be as simple as picking up a bottle of pre-mixed glögg concentrate, and it should come as no surprise that Berkeley’s Nordic House (2709 San Pablo Ave.) — the Bay Area’s repository for all things Scandinavian — is the place to go. For $7.95, you can snag a bottle of Saturnus, a popular Swedish brand. To make a batch of glögg, pour the concentrate into a pot along with the cheapest bottle of dry red wine you have on hand. (Nordic House owner Pia Klausen favors a Gallo burgundy.) While this heats up, add raisins, almond slivers, and fresh orange peel. Serve the glögg hot, providing spoons for your guests so they can scoop up the raisins, which will plump as they cook, absorbing all of the sweet, boozy goodness.
As an alternative to the bottled concentrate, Nordic House also carries a house-made glögg spice mix ($3.95) that consists of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, orange peel, and raisins. You add that to two bottles’ worth of wine and let the mixture sit overnight. When you’re ready to heat it up, add sugar and, if you like, some blanched almonds at the very end. This method takes a bit more advance planning, but according to Klausen, it’s worth it — the spices won’t be as intense with the pre-bottled version.
If you’ve had glögg before, it was probably very similar to the kind that Klausen describes. But Martin Geijer’s family recipe, passed down to him by his father, involved infusing the traditional spices into a highly concentrated neutral spirit rather than the more typical red wine base. Starting last year, Geijer has enlisted Alameda’s St. George Spirits to distill a version of his family recipe. The result, Geiger Glögg, retails for $32 a bottle and is, according to Geijer, the world’s first glögg liqueur. (Apparently, in Sweden the tax code makes producing a non-wine-based product unfeasible from an economic standpoint.)
According to Geijer, the benefits of drinking glögg in this liqueur form are twofold: The spices are more prominent when there’s no wine flavor to cover them up, and, at 20 percent ABV, the liqueur packs a bigger punch than a traditional mulled wine.
You can heat it up in a pot or kettle, the same way you would a bottle of sake. But Geijer said the liqueur can be treated like any other spirit — served cold or at room temperature, either neat or mixed into a cocktail such as a Stockholm Sour: one part liqueur, one part bourbon, a half part fresh lemon juice, and a quarter part simple syrup, all mixed together in a cocktail shaker.
For more ambitious glögg-inspired cocktails, you might look to the handful of Bay Area restaurants that carry Geijer Glögg, including Hutch (2022 Telegraph Ave.), a Southern restaurant in Uptown Oakland whose bar program otherwise focuses almost exclusively on American whiskey. But owner David King explained that he was introduced to the pleasures of glögg when he was working as a chef in Copenhagen.
King and his bar manager, Joshua Sexton, are hoping customers will warm up to a holiday cocktail that they recently added to the menu — a milk punch, served hot, that King said will be somewhat akin to a Brandy Alexander, which is traditionally made by mixing brandy, milk, crème de cacao, and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. In Hutch’s version, the glögg liqueur adds an extra boost of spice, resulting in something akin to a Christmas-y hot toddy — perfect for the holidays.
You probably want to know how the stuff tastes. I sampled a bottle of Geijer Glögg, and the first thing I noticed was the smell of cinnamon, which was potent enough that it wafted up through the unopened cap. The liqueur had a lovely golden-amber hue and, when I drank it, a honeyed sweetness followed by a spicy kick. The overall effect was not unlike a boozy distillation of Big Red chewing gum.
When you heat the glögg up — in the office microwave, in my case — the intensity doubles or triples. By the second sip, there was a pronounced warmth in my belly. On a frigid (by Bay Area standards) winter evening, I could see myself going back for a second cup, and then a third.
A classic flavoured gin recipe found on historyextra.com
In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates sloe gin – a fruit-flavoured drink made with the bounty of wild blackthorns.
A spicy liquor recipe found on britishfood.about.com
Comments to the recipe: Aquavit is a Scandinavian liquor with just as long traditions as Russian and Polish vodka, so please don’t offend the whole of Scandinavia by saying that aquavit is a sort of flavoured vodka. Aquavit was first mentioned in writing in 1531 and there are 91 different aquavits produced in Scandinavia today. The only thing they have in common is that both aquavit and vodka was potato based as soon as potatoes were grown here and not made from grain (grain was to valuable this far north). And by the way, the dill plants is never used to flavour aquavit, it is dill seeds that are used and real aquavit lovers never, ever drink their aquavit chilled, it kills most of the flavours.