Evelyn Waugh’s recipe for mulled claret

The following item was published in the Evelyn Waugh Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Winter 1972).

Waugh’s Mulled Claret

Francis O. Mattson

“It was shortly before midnight in early March; I had been entertaining the college intellectuals to mulled claret; the fire was roaring, the air of my room heavy with smoke and spice, and my mind weary with metaphysics.” So Charles Ryder describes the setting for his first meeting with Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited.

Ryder’s mulled claret was served to a party of five. In 1950 Waugh’s own recipe for “Mulled Claret (For Six Persons)” was printed in “As We Like It”; Cookery Recipes by Famous People, ed. Kenneth Downey (London: Arthur Barker), a collection of recipes solicited from 200 well-known people and published for the benefit of the Returned Prisoners of War Association. In accordance with post-war “regulations, restrictions, and rations,” contributors were asked to submit recipes that were “really simple and easy to follow” and to draw on ingredients currently available.

Apart from Waugh there were few creative writers among those replying: but there were contributions from Aldous Huxley (Gnocchi di patate), Christopher Fry (Melon sweet), and a characteristically dismissive “Opinion on recipes” from the vegetarian G. Bernard Shaw.

For those who might wish to try Waugh’s suggestion for a beverage “to be drunk during and after luncheon in February or after dinner on any winter evening,” we reprint the recipe here:

Take 6 bottles of red wine (it would be improper to use really fine Bordeaux, but the better the wine, the better the concoction). Any sound claret or burgundy will do. One cupful of water; 2 port glasses of brandy; 1 port glass of ginger wine; 1 orange stuffed with cloves; peel of 2 lemons; 3 sticks of cinnamon; 1 grated nutmeg.

Heat in covered cauldron. Do not allow to simmer. Serve hot and keep hot on the hob. Should be drunk at same temperature as tea.

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