I know. That doesn’t sound the least bit appetizing. Things called negus don’t sound edible. This is actually a drink, but it doesn’t sound overly drinkable either. I got the idea to make negus based on a couple of Outlander references. Claire is served iced negus in Written in my Own Heart’s Blood and Minnie enjoys a glass in the short story, A Fugitive Green. Negus is also mentioned in works from Austen, Dickens, and Bronte, among others, and was a popular drink in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original drink was a diluted version of a Bishop that was reportedly created by Colonel Francis Negus some time before his death in 1732.
According to Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management of 1861, negus was a punch most often served at children’s parties and her recipe is fairly diluted but still contains a pint of port. So I guess that kids’ parties were a little different back then. Adults were probably imbibing something a little more grown up than this mix of port (or sherry or sweet white wine), water, sugar, lemon, and spices, served hot. It sounds delightful to me, a little sweet perhaps, but certainly any cousin of mulled wine can’t be bad.
For this iced version, I used a white port style wine from a Michigan winery. Michigan excels at sweet wines (and non-sweet wines, for that matter) and the the lighter profile of this wine goes perfectly with an iced, summery cocktail. All the recipes I found were for large batches, which makes sense given the “party punch” intentions, but I just wanted a glass for me. I did some calculations and came up with the following proportions. The beautiful thing is that you can absolutely adjust every ingredient to your taste. So, use this as a guideline more than a hard and fast recipe.
A lovely summer sipper
- 3 ounces port, port style wine, or sweet white wine of your choice
- 6 ounces water
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
- dash of ground nutmeg
- dash of ground cinnamon
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- Add port and lemon juice to cooled sugar water.
- Pour over ice.
- Garnish with nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon zest.
**To save time, you can use simple syrup instead of boiling the sugar and water, but it will be sweeter, so be sure to adjust accordingly.**
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