As Tom Musgrave was seen no more, we may suppose his plan to have succeeded, and imagine him mortifying with his barrel of oysters in dreary solitude, or gladly assisting the landlady in her bar to make fresh negus for the happy dancers above.
Negus, a beverage made of wine, hot water, lemon juice, sugar, and nutmeg was created by by colonel Francis Negus in the early 18th century. Though Col. Negus died in 1737, his namesake drink remained a popular fortifier on cold evenings. During the early Regency it was practically expected, along with White Soup at balls.
By Victorian times the drink, similar to Mulled Wine, had dropped from being fashionable to being considered a children’s drink. Jerry Thomas remarks in his 1862 book, How to Mix Drinks, that it is “A most refreshing and elegant beverage, particularly for those who do not take punch or grog after supper.”
To Make Negus
To every pint of port wine, allow 1 quart of boiling water, 1/4 lb. of sugar, 1 lemon, grated nutmeg to taste.
As this beverage is more usually drunk at children’s parties than at any other, the wine need not be very old or expensive for the purpose, a new fruity wine answering very well for it. Put the wine into a jug, rub some lumps of sugar (equal to 1/4 lb.) on the lemon-rind until all the yellow part of the skin is absorbed, then squeeze the juice, and strain it. Add the sugar and lemon-juice to the port wine, with the grated nutmeg; pour over it the boiling water, cover the jug, and, when the beverage has cooled a little, it will be fit for use. Negus may also be made of sherry, or any other sweet white wine, but is more usually made of port than of any other beverage.
Sufficient: Allow 1 pint of wine, with the other ingredients in proportion, for a party of 9 or 10 children.
-Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861
This recipe can easily be followed today. Non-alchoholic versions can be made by substituting the wine with apple or cranberry juice.
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