Home | Cookbooks | Diary | Magic Menu | Surprise! | More ≡



(or Ypocras, Ipocras)

A highly spiced, medicinal, wine. Commonplace from the 13th to 18th Centuries. The precursor of Tonic Wine. Compare with: Clary and Piment

Preparing Ypocras
Image: Unknown, 15th C?

The name almost certainly derives from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates of Cos, the 'Father of Western Medicine', either because of the presumed medicinal properties of the drink, or because it needed to be filtered to remove the spice husks using the fine sort of pharmacist's filter-bag known as 'Hippocrates' Sleeve'.

By the early 19th Century it was sufficiently unfamiliar for John Timbs in his Things Not Generally Known to have to ask; "What was hippocras? A medicated drink composed usually of red wine but sometimes white with the addition of sugar and spices."

Chaucer's Merchant's Tale of c1386 has; "He drynketh Ypocras, Clarree and Vernage Of spices hoote t'encreessen his corage."

Original Receipt in 'A book of cookrşe. Very necessary for all such as delight therin', gathered by "AW" (AW 1591);

To make Ipocras.
Take a gallon of Wine, and an ounce of Sinamon, two ounces of Ginger, and a pound of Sugar, twenty cloves brused, and twenty corns of pepper groce beaten, and let all those soke one night, and let it run through a bag.

Original Receipt in 'The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin' 1594 by Thomas Dawson, (Huswife 1594)

To make Ipocras.
TAKE of chosen Sinamon two ounces, of fine Ginger one ounce, of Graines halfe an ounce of Nutmegs halfe an ounce, bruise them al, and stampe them in three or foure pintes of good odifferous wine, with a pound of Sugar, by the space of four and twentie houres: then put them into an Jpocras bag of woolen, and so recieve the liquor. The readiest and best way is to put the spices with the pound of Sugar, & the wine into a bottell, or a stone pot stopped close, and after xxiiii houres it wil be ready, then cast a thin linnen cloth, and letting so much run through as şe will occupie at once, and keep the vessell close, for it will so well keep both the spirite, odour, and vertue of the wine and also spices.

Original Receipt in 'A Queens Delight in The Art of Preserving, Conserving and Candying', by WM, 1671 (WM 1671)

Hypocras taught by Dr. Twine for Wind in the Stomach. Take Pepper, Grains, Ginger, of each half an ounce, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmegs, Mace, of each one ounce grosly beaten, Rosemary, Agrimony, both shred of each a few crops, red Rose leaves a pretty quantity, as an indifferent gripe, a pound of Sugar beaten; lay these to steep in a gallon of good Rhenish or white-Wine in a close vessel, stirring it two or three times a day the space of three or four dayes together, then strain it through an Hypocras strainer, and drink a draught of it before meat half an hour, and sometimes after to help digestion.

See: Made-Wine

For other (supposedly) medicinal drinks, see the list at..
Aqua Mirabilis

MORE FROM Foods of England...
Cookbooks Diary Index Magic Menu Random Really English? Timeline Donate English Service Food Map of England Lost Foods Accompaniments Biscuits Breads Cakes and Scones Cheeses Classic Meals Curry Dishes Dairy Drinks Egg Dishes Fish Fruit Fruits & Vegetables Game & Offal Meat & Meat Dishes Pastries and Pies Pot Meals Poultry Preserves & Jams Puddings & Sweets Sauces and Spicery Sausages Scones Soups Sweets and Toffee About ... Bookshop

Email: editor@foodsofengland.co.uk