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Clarea-d-Agua-art - 1/7/00


"Period drinks - Spiced Wines and Sweet Waters" by Vicente Coenca.


NOTE: See also the files: wine-msg, caudles-art, spiced-wine-msg, bev-water-msg, perry-msg, wassail-msg, spices-msg, merch-spices-msg, mead-msg, beverages-msg.





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                               Thank you,

                                    Mark S. Harris

                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                         stefan at florilegium.org



Period drinks - Spiced Wines and Sweet Waters

by Vicente Coenca


Clarea, or clarŽ or clary, is a mixture of honey, wine and spices closely related to hippocras.  Hippocras is made with red wine, while clary is made with white wine.  Both preparations were considered to have medicinal properties due to the influence of the spices used to infuse the wine and from the essential nature of the wine and honey themselves.  Clarea de agua, or water clary, can be classified as a sort of hydromel or honey water. Its title derives from the use of spice mixtures normally used to make wine claries.  


The recipe itself is from the 1529 edition of Ruperto de Nola's Libro de Cozina, originally written in the late 1400s for King Fernando I of Naples and republished three times between 1520 and 1529.  It appears only in the 1529 edition, and otherwise appears to be unique.  I have heard mention of other spiced waters in feast descriptions and menus, but have found no actual recipes aside from this one.  In the never-ending search for other drinks to serve at feasts aside from cold tea, lemonade, and sekanjabin, this is a pleasant discovery.


Clarea de Agua

A un azumbre de agua, cuatro onzas de miel; echa las mismas especias que la otra clarea; hervir el agua con la miel y despues echar las especias aparte del fuego.


Water Clarea

To an azumbre of water, four ounces of honey; add the same spices as the other clarea; boil the water with the honey and then add the spices off the fire.


Simple enough, so far.  An azumbre is equivalent to four pints, so the proportion of honey to water is one ounce per pint.  But what's the other clarea?  


The previous recipe in the text is for a wine clarea:


Especias de Clarea

Canela tres partes, clavos dos partes, gingibre una parte, todo molido y pasado por estame–a y para un azumbre de vino blanco echa una onza de especias con una libra de miel, bien mezclado y pasado por una manga de lienzo pesado tantas veces para que el vino salga claro.


Spices for Clarea

Cinnamon three parts, cloves two parts, ginger one part, all ground and passed through a sieve and for an azumbre of white wine add an ounce of spices with a pound of honey, well mixed and passed through a sleeve of heavy linen enough times that the wine comes out clear.


Okay, so we've got a good idea of proportions.  Four pints of water, four ounces of honey, and one ounce of mixed spices, heavy on the cinnamon, light on the ginger, all finely ground and sifted.  One problem is apparent though; if the spices are finely ground, some particles will remain in suspension no matter how many times you strain the clarea.  On a whim, I checked out the corresponding recipe in the 1520 Catalan edition.


De pimentes de clareya

Gyngebre blanch cinch ones: canyella . vi ones: nous de xarch mig quart: clauells d<e> girofle e tot ao picaras de manera que solament sia mig picat: e apres pren mig q<ua>rto [IX] de vi e met hi vna hona e mija de dites pime<n>tes ensemps ab vna liura de mel: ap<re>s passar ho has per la manega d<e>l canamas e passau tantes vegades fins que hisca clara.


On Spices for Clarea (quick and dirty translation)

White ginger five ounces; cinnamon four ounces: grains of paradise half a quarter: cloves and crush all this in such a way that it is only half crushed: and then take half a quarter(?) of wine and add to it an ounce and a half of the said spices together with a pound of honey: then pass it though a sleeve of canvas as many times as needed to make the wine come out clear.


As you can see, this is a different recipe for basically the same thing. The proportions of ginger and cinnamon are reversed, and grains of paradise are added. A quarter is a quarter pound.  Since spices are weighed on the apothecary's scale, a quarter of spices is about three standard ounces. As the spices are crushed, no fine particles remain in the mix, and the resulting drink is clearer.  


In redacting, I decided to combine the two recipes.  Since it was a cold, dry winter day, I added more ginger than cinnamon so as to stimulate the production of warm, moist humors.   I had made this before and had too heavy a hand with the cloves, so I went with the following proportions:


Ginger three parts

Cinnamon two parts

Cloves and grains of paradise one part each


For competition, I doubled the Clarea de Agua recipe:


1 gallon water

8 oz honey

2 oz mixed spices.


I boiled the honey and water together, skimmed off the foam, then removed the pot from the fire and added the crushed spices.  I let them steep overnight, then strained them out through some fine cheesecloth.  

The resulting drink was smooth, a bit spicy, and not overwhelming, a good accompaniment to the feast that night.


The recipe can be used as a starting point for other drinks, using different spices in different proportions.  Use whatever takes your fancy. The important thing is to use a light hand with the spices, especially the cloves. Otherwise you get something that clubs you over the head, kneels on your chest, and steals your wallet.


Happy drinking!




Perez, Dionisio, ed. De Nola, Ruperto. Libro de Guisados, Manjares y Potajes, Intitulado Libro de Cozina. Los Cl‡sicos Olvidados, vol. IX. 1929 Compa–’a Iberoamericana de Publicaciones, Madrid


De Nola, Ruberto.  Libre de Coch. 1520 Barcelona, Carlos Amor—s.  Facsimile and transcription available on the World Wide Web at http://cervantesvirtual.com/servlet/ SirveObras/ bc/ 628460875747518031062082 .


Fabra I Poch, Pompeu, ed. Diccionari General de la Llengua Catalana 5th ed. 1968 A. Lopez Llausas, Barcelona.  Secci— Filol˜gica de l'Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Ediciones EDHASA


de G‡mez, Tana, ed. Simon and Schuster International Dictionary, Spanish-English/ English-Spanish, 1973 Simon & Schuster, New York, NY


Redon, Odile, Sabban, Francoise, & Serventi, Silvano. The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy 1998 University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL



Copyright 2000 by Vincent F. Cuenca. 5227 Alaska Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63111.

<bootkiller at hotmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org