Hippocras


Medieval Spiced Wine


Philip de Greylonde

Hippocras, also known as hipocras, ypocrasse, ypocras, hypocras, hyppocras, ipocras, and ippocras. Hippocras is a beverage made by adding spices and sugar (or honey) to wine. It was a highly popular beverage and there are numerous variations. Although the spices, sugar, and exact proportions varied, hippocras recipes usually included wine, and a mix of spices including cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. The two examples below are of recipes from Europe in the 14th to 15th centuries.




Forme of Cury c1390

Old English

Pur fait Ypocras. Treys Unces de canell. Et iij unces de gyngener. spykenard de Spayn le pays dun deneres. garyngale. clowes, gylofre. poivr long, noiez mugadez. maziozame cardemonij de chescun i.qrt douce grayne [?] de paradys flour de queynel de chescun dimid unce de toutes. soit fait powdour and serve it forth.




Le Menagier De Paris c1400-1450

Old French

Pour faire ung lot de bon ypocras. Prenes une onches de cinamonde nommée longue canelle en pippe, avec unes cloche de gingembre et autant de garingal, bien estampé ensemble, et puis prenez ung livre de bon çuquere: et tout cela broyés ensamble et destrempés avec ung lot du milleur vin de Beaune que pourrés finer et le laissir tremper ungne heure ou deux. Et pus coullés parmy ung chause par plusieurs fois tant qui soit bien cler.

English

To make powdered hippocras, take a quarter-ounce of very fine cinnamon, hand-picked by tasting it, an ounce of very fine meche ginger and an ounce of grains of paradise, a sixth of an ounce of nutmeg and galingale together, and pound it all together. And when you want to make hippocras, take a good half-ounce or more of this powder and two quarter-ounces of sugar, and mix them together, and a quart of wine as measured in Paris.






Making Hippocras

For this recipe, I have simplified the ingredients to those that are easily purchased, or that are common in the modern kitchen. Additionally, I have adapted the amounts of spices for the modern palate, and for health and safety reasons (for example, reducing the clove content).

For sanitizing, I use Star San from Five Star Chemicals or Iodophor - however, high-proof neutral spirit diluted to 70% Ethanol will work as well, simply make sure the alcohol touches all surfaces for more than 15 seconds.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3L red wine (I typically use Carlo Rossi Burgundy)
  • 60 cubebs or black peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 2.5c sugar (I use a mix of white and piloncillo)
  • 1 tsp fresh-ground nutmeg
  • 2 oz fresh ginger
  • 1.5 oz cinnamon or cassia

Instructions

A Carlo Rossi bottle contains 4L of wine, for this recipe I use 3L in order to provide room in the bottle for the other ingredients.

  1. Crush the cubebs (black peppercorns work fine) and cloves
  2. Grate or microplane fresh nutmeg until you have 1tsp
  3. Break the cinnamon or cassia into small pieces.
  4. Peel and chop the fresh ginger
  5. Add the sugar to the bottle and shake to mix
  6. Add the remaining spices and shake to mix.
  7. Allow to sit in a cool dark place shaking once or twice a day (I usually let it got 2-3 days) judge by taste when it is ready.
  8. Sanitize a strainer (I use a re-usable coffee filter)
  9. Filter into a sanitized container for serving.

See also