Possets have been entrenched in British culture for around 1000 years and were well known right up until the end of the 19th Century. Richard Cook in his 1827 book, Oxford Night Caps, wrote of many different Possets calling them, “A medicated drink with some antiquity”. They were championed by the Bard himself and described by Dr Johnson as “milk curdled with wine and other acids”. A posset is essentially an alcoholic milky or eggy drink.
Victorian Britain had a rather laissez-faire attitude to giving intoxicating substances to children and it was common to send your kids to bed a little drunk on posset in order to help them sleep. Having a teething child on my hands at the moment and a house crammed full of booze I can’t say I’ve not been tempted to do the same.
White wine whey/Milk Posset
Possets are simply wine and booze, this one is as easy to make as porridge but possibly not as an advisable way to start the day.
1 pint of milk
120 ml (1 glass) white wine
Rind of one lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
Bring milk to the boil then pour in a glass of wine. Boil until the mixture begins to stiffen and strain into a small jug. Stir in the sugar, lemon rind and nutmeg and serve hot.
This slight variation helps show the step towards an egg nog like drink.
8 egg yolks
300g Castor Sugar
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
1 bottle of white wine
Pinch of Cinnamon
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and add the nutmeg and lemon zest. Meanwhile, pour out a glass of wine and pour rest of the bottle into a saucepan and bring to the boil, remove from heat. Pour in the glass of cold white wine (this stops the mixture for curdling) and slowly pour into the eggy mixture, continually stirring as you do so. Quickly pour into tea cups so that it froths and drink whilst hot. You could also froth up with a cappuccino frother if you have one.
Cook’s recipe also states that you can add half a pint of rum and that the result is, “very intoxicating”. You can tell he was Oxford-educated with such shrewd observations.