Liqueur-art - 3/23/17
"A Calamondin Ratafia or Liqueur" by Ld. Daniel Raoul Le Vascon du Navarre'.
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Mark S. Harris
AKA: Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
A Calamondin Ratafia or Liqueur
by Ld. Daniel Raoul Le Vascon du Navarre'
A Liqueur : is by definition a sweet, syrupy, flavored alcoholic liquor. It is made by the combination of an alcoholic base with a flavoring agent and sweetening syrup. Liqueurs type beverages were commonly made in period by steeping herbs, spices or fruit in brandy, a marc or a grapa and then adding a sweetening agent such as sugar syrup or diluted honey. The intent in creating liqueurs was as often to create a digestif as to create a palatable drink from rather raw distilled spirits. A secondary purpose was to preserve the taste of a rare or seasonal fruit so that it could be either transported or enjoyed out of season. It is entirely reasonable to presume that the addition of flavoring, as in gin or "Hollands" was used in period to make otherwise unpalatable raw spirits drinkable. My intent was to create a pleasant citrus flavored liqueur using a citrus fruit which approached period oranges in tartness and acidity. In truth I could have started with sour oranges rather than calamondins but the latter were available to me at no cost and were a known quantity. I thus created my liqueur by steeping calamondin juice in a brandy/sugar syrup mixture. I followed directions laid out in "Homemade Liqueurs" and "The Larousse Gastronomique". I clarified my liqueur by the use of isenglas, a clarifier used in brewing, and multiple filtrations through coffee filters. The liqueur has been allowed to age approximately 4 years. Per "The Larousse Gastronomique" and "Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book" liqueurs made in this manner are often called ratafias. It was the custom in the Middle ages to conclude legal agreements with a drink and its name was gained from the Latin phrase "ut rata fiat". Catherine de Medici, when she married Henry II of France, is credited with bringing to France, along with Italian cooking, the knowledge of the preparation of liqueur along with other more sinister potions.
Citrus: Shakespeare mentions oranges twice in his plays. The sweet orange (Citrus sinencis) is native to China and Indo-China while the bitter orange (Citrus aurantium) is native India. The crusaders brought back bitter oranges to Italy from Palestine and the Arabs introduced them into Spain and the south of France. It is reported that Nice has been trading in bitter oranges since 1332. A historic orange tree recorded to have been planted in 1422 by Eleonora de Castille, the wife of Carlos III the king of Navarra died in 1858. Vasca de Gamma is said to have brought sweet oranges to Portugal and hence to Spain and France. Regarding the citrus known as calamondin (Citrus mitis) Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines it as a small spiny citrus tree native to the Philippines. It should be noted that the Philippines were visited, traded with, and proselytized by the Moslems well before 1600.
Brandy: Per "The Penguin Book of Spirits and Liqueurs" brandy is a distillate of wine. The word derives from an corruption of the Dutch word "brandewijn" and can into vogue in the 17th century. There is a specific mention of a shipment of brandy from La Rochelle, a French port, in 1529. There is considerable evidence that it was carried and used in the 16th and 17th as a means of rendering suspect water safe to drink.
Sugar: Per "The Larousse Gastronomique" sugar probably can from India. The first European writers who mention it describe it as "Indian salt". Some evidence suggests that from the 12th century on sugar cane has been grown on Sicily and processed in to sugar. Be that as it may it is an established historical fact that the Portuguese prince, Dom Henrigue brought sugar cane from Sicily in the beginnings of the 15th century and had it planted on the island of Madeira. White sugar is specifically mentioned in an account for the year 1333 from the house of Humbert, Dauphin of the Viennois as well as in an order from King John dated 1353.
Anon. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980, G&C. Miraiam Co., Springfield, Ma.
Bernoskie, R.D. 1992, "Butter in the Bard; Reading Between the Viands of Wm. Shakespeare" Original Traveling Chef, P.O. Box 1536, Rosemead, California, 91770-1536
Montagne', P., 1961, "Larouse Gastronomique" Crown Publishers, Inc. N.Y., N.Y.
Meilach, D. & M., 1979, "Homemade Liqueurs" Contemporary Books Incorporated, Chicago, Il.
Price, P. V., 1980, "The Penguin Book of Spirits and Liqueurs", Penguin Books, N.Y., N.Y.
Spuring, H., 1986, "Elinor Fettiplace's Reciept Book", Elisabeth Sifton Books, Viking Penguin Inc. NY, NY.
Toussaint-Samat, M., 1994, "History of Food" Blackwell Publishers 238 Main Street Cambridge Ma. 02142
Copyright 2000 by Daniel C. Phelps. 3359B Trafalgar Square, Tallahassee, Florida 32301. <phelpsd at gate.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place 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.