Savoy Sangaree

Savoy Sangaree
1 Teaspoonful Powdered Sugar. (1 tsp Caster Sugar)
1 Glass of Sherry or Port. (2 oz Cossart and Gordon 5 Year Bual Madeira)
Stir well and strain into medium size glass, add slice of orange or lemon peel, and a little nutmeg on top. (Errr… Muddle Sugar in a like amount of water until dissolved. Add piece of ice, pour over Madeira. Stir until chilled and top with 1 oz Chilled Soda Water. Drape on Horse’s Neck of Orange and freshly grated nutmeg.

Well, that’s interesting, the fact that the Savoy bothers to list a branded version of the Sangaree! To me, that seems to indicate that it was still being made at the Hotel, or at least lingered in their bar book, by the time the Savoy Cocktail Book was written in 1930!

For this post, I’m going to lean a bit heavily on the shoulders of two of my inspirations in the cocktail writing field, Paul Clarke and Ted Haigh.

The History of Sangaree Cocktails, Ted Haigh, Imbibe Magazine

According to this article, the earliest mention of the Sangaree was around 1736 as some sort of Madeira punch served in the Strand District of London (adjacent to the Theaters and Savoy Hotel!) Well, if that was the earliest version, I believe that base is where I will start, especially since Port Wine and Sherry Sangarees are covered in the next two drinks.

However, a more interesting description comes in 1785, where someone describes an Arrack Punch as a Sangaree.

Certainly by 1785 the strange drink, now called sangaree, was thoroughly equated with the Antilles islands and with Spain. Several dictionaries now listed the word and pointed to the West Indies as its place of residence. It had also achieved a fuller definition and one obliging it more to punch than wine. The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, published that year, wrote, “Sangaree: Rack punch was formerly so called in bagnios.” Well, a bagnio in this sense was a brothel, and the “rack” punch referred to the arrack that was the first of five elements in classic punch: arrack, citrus fruits, spices, cane sugar and water. The arrack in the dictionary was not the anise-tinged spirit of the Middle East but the father of modern rum, Batavia Arrack from the Antilles, Java specifically. Given this definition, the sangaree was a single-serving punch!

Well, not much to go on, but according to Ted, by 1837, recipes similar to the Sangaree had begun to appear in print as in, “Directions For Cookery In Its Various Branches” by a Miss Leslie, “Mix in a pitcher or in tumblers one-third of wine, ale or porter, with two-thirds of water either warm or cold. Stir in sufficient loaf-sugar to sweeten, and grate some nutmeg into it.”

Interesting really, that Wine, Ale or Porter can be used as a base for the Sangaree, but 2/3 water to 1/3 Wine, Ale or Porter? That’s some weak sauce to modern tastes, why on earth would you dilute beer, unless you were feeding invalids or children? In 1867, the Professor, Jerry Thomas is a bit more circumspect, prescribing that just about any base spirit may to be used as a base for a Sangaree, irrespective of that making it an identical recipe to his Slings. Well, due respect to Mr. Thomas, but that is just a bit Catholic of him.

As things go, I’m going to propose that the Sangaree be limited to non-spirituous bases: Wine, Fortified Wine, or, well, if you are feeling particularly perverse, beer. A little citrus peel won’t hurt anyone, or, as was the style of the 19th Century, maybe “berries, in season.” If you’re going to use distilled spirits, you might as well go ahead and call it a Sling (or Toddy).

The only thing I will further note, is that by 1867, when Jerry Thomas published his cocktail guide he offers one improvement over Ms. Leslie, using Ice to cool the drink, instead of water, and a fine, fine improvement that is, especially with a drink already somewhat dilute!

Port Wine Sangaree, Paul Clarke, Cocktail Chronicles

OK, at least half of the appeal of making this drink is the opportunity to say (or in this case, write) “Sangaree.” If you’re looking for a new way to get tossed out of a bar, you could do worse than making it a habit to stroll in, rap loudly on the bartop with your knuckles and shout, “Barman! A Port Wine SAN-GAREE, extra nutmeg, s’il vous plait — and keep ‘em comin’!”

And that’s why these men actually get paid to write articles!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.