Call me a geek but there aren’t many things I enjoy more than leafing through old books and documents in libraries and record offices. When I worked for a local rag, my colleagues often sniggered at the number of hours I spent combing through microfilm, researching features on the 1930s slum clearances and the double shop-front that found its way from Lewes to Hull. I guess, as a habit, this does inhibit the speed at which one works.
I’m really excited about the opening of The Keep, a new resource centre housing the Brighton and Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council and Sussex University archives under one roof. For want of time to immerse myself in some research there, last week I spent an hour or so looking through old Sussex recipe books at Lewes Library. I found a recipe for what might better be described as a ‘yolk globe’, entitled ‘Curious Manner of Making Eggs Larger Than That of an Ostrich’. More usefully though, I also found a collection of ‘Drinks for Winter Nights’ in Judy Moore’s book Sampling Sussex. I hope to blog my way through all six of these over the Christmas period but I won’t make any promises because these old Sussex ale-based cocktails get more pokey and disturbing with each paragraph break.
I’m easing myself in gently with this recipe for Sussex Jackut. It seems a jack nut is a kind of long bolt used to hold soft or brittle materials in place, so I guess this cocktail could be something akin to British ‘slow comfortable screw’… perhaps? *To find the true etymology I guess I would need spend a few more hours combing through old papers, so I’ll skip to the meat, which is that the Sussex Jackut is the easiest of the six ‘Drinks For Winter Nights’ that I found. It also makes a festive change to mulled wine or cider. The original recipe goes like this:
Add to a pint of table beer of (sic) ale a tablespoon of brandy, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a little grated nutmeg or ginger and a roll of very thin cut lemon peel.
Drinks for Winter Nights, pp 108, Sampling Sussex: Old country recipes and remedies by Judy Moore, 1996, S B Publications
*If anyone knows the orgin of the word ‘jackut’, its meaning, or anything else about this drink, please let me know in the comments.
I think Sussex Jackut tastes good cool but my fella reckons it could do with being warmed up to blood temperature. Whatever temperature you choose to serve it, I recommend using a good quality English ale. I’m lucky to have Harveys Brewery just down the road, and I bought a flagon of draft Harveys Best with which to experiment. I made up a half pint quantity because it was a school night.
1/2 pint/300ml Sussex ale
1/2 tbsp brandy or cognac
Thin sliver of lemon peel, all pith removed
1/2 tsp demerara sugar
Grating of nutmeg, to taste
Dissolve the sugar in the brandy, drop in the lemon rind, pour over the ale and season with nutmeg. Warm gently over a low heat, don’t let it boil, or serve as it comes. Go easy on the lemon, you will be surprised how much citrus flavour comes from just a small sliver.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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