Sunday, 18 December 2011

Dr Johnson's Favourite

Once Upon a Time many years ago, we discovered this old recipe for mulled wine called "Dr Johnson's Favourite".  (The Dr Johnson in question being Samuel Johnson, the English author, poet and critic whose most memorable contribution to British culture was probably his Dictionary of The English Language published in 1755.)

I thought it had been in an ancient recipe book, given to me by an aged aunt on the occasion of my 14th birthday.... but hunting through my now dilapidated copy I found that this wasn't the case. My husband @pottedhistory AKA Graham Taylor, thought it came out of a long discarded South African magazine. We simply don't know....   But what we DO know is that we've been enjoying this warming, spicy concoction every Christmas for decades and that every time we serve it, people ask for the recipe, which we are always happy to share. By popular demand it was even printed in The Northumberland Gazette one year.

 I don't imagine that there's an historian anywhere who could confirm that this truly was Dr Johnson's Favourite, but I can say for absolute certain that it's OURS. Give it a try, it might just become a favourite of yours too!  

Dr Johnson's Favourite-

1 Bottle red wine
2 Medium orange sliced
1 Sliced lemon
3 Tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)
4 Cloves
1 Mug boiling water
1 Good measure brandy or orange liqueur

Put wine, orange, lemon, sugar and cloves into a stainless or enamelled pan over a low heat.  Bruise the fruit with a wooden spoon to burst the juice cells, cover and heat till steaming but DO NOT BOIL.  Remove from the heat, add boiling water and brandy/liqueur, sieve into a jug, add more sugar if necessary and serve in heat proof glasses.  

It is best taken in congenial company, beside a warm log fire. 

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