Georgian Era Drinks: Alcoholic and Non-alcoholic

Besides malt liquors, tea, or coffee, there were other Georgian Era drinks that were popular in England, France, and America. Here’s a list of some of Georgian’s most favorite beverages:

Birch Wine. This was made from birch trees in the month of March when the sap ascended. To each gallon of sap was added honey and sugar, which was boiled together. Cloves or lemon could also be added. To every nine gallons of wine two ounces of hops were also added to create a yeast. This concoction then sat for two months before it was bottled, and two months after that, it was fit to drink.

popular drinks of the Georgian Era

Buttered Toddy. Toddies were another of the popular Georgian Era drinks. Toddies were usually drank before bedtime and were sometimes used for medicinal purposes. The buttered toddy in particular was a hot drink created from honey and lemon juice, along with a dash of nutmeg. That mixture was added to a glassful of rum and a quarter of butter and diluted with boiling water.

Carrot Beer. Beer was a popular drink and for much of the eighteenth century beer was a morning beverage. Carrot beer contained water, carrots, treacle, bran, and hops and was created just as other beer was created.

Chocolate. In the 1700s, this drink was a luxury item that was all the rage with the French elite like Marie Antoinette or Princesse de Lamballe. The English liked it so much London had “chocolate houses” that were as popular as coffee shops are today. Chocolate also made its way across the ocean to America, where it became highly popular in the 1700s and caused Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s Founding Fathers, to declare that in America this delicious drink would overtake tea and coffee in popularity. Because of its popularity it also resulted in the first American chocolate manufacturer, Baker’s Chocolate, opening in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1764.

Portrait by J. B. Charpentier of the Duke of Penthièvre, his son Prince de Lamballe, the Princesse de Lamballe, daughter (the future Duchesse d’Orleans), and the Countess Toulouse drinking chocolate. Public domain.

Curacoa. This drink contained rectified spirits infused with orange peel and two pounds of clarified sugar. It was shaken together, sat over night, and strained through paper or wool until it was clear. A spoonful was added to cold water for a refreshing summer drink.

Eggnog: This

Flip: One of the most popular of the Georgian Era drinks was the flip. This drink was composed of hot beer, brandy and sugar. It was heated with a red-hot poker, called a logger-head, which caused the drink to froth and thereby gave the drink its name. Sailors seemed to particularly like it. Later, in the 1800s, eggs were added to it.

Ginger Tea. This spicy and invigorating tea was popular in the Georgian Era just like today because it was touted to soothe upset stomachs, help pregnant women with morning sickness, and ward off colds. 

Leek Milk. Leeks were put into milk and cooked over a fire until the mixture was thick. The mixture was then stained before drinking.

Orgeat. This was a mixture of pounded Jordan and bitter almonds that were blanched. They were mixed with spring water and either rose water or orange water was also added. The mixture was put through a sieve until the almonds were dry. A clarified syrup was then mixed with the almonds and boiled one minute. One tablespoon of this syrup was used to a tumbler of water to produce a pleasant drink. Today, however, because of its almond taste, it is used to flavor cocktails, particularly Mai-Tais.

Trade card for William Owen, confectioner who sell orgeat along with other products. Courtesy of the British Museum Collection Online.

Negus. Another of the interesting Georgian Era drinks was this drink that was created in the early 18th century by Colonel Francis Negus. It consisted of wine, hot water, lemon juice, sugar, and nutmeg and was a popular and fortifying drink consumed on cold evenings. Of its inventions the xx reported:

“It is related that on one occasion, when the bottle was passing rather more rapidly than good fellowship seemed to warrant over a hot political discussion, in which a number of prominent whigs and tories were taking part, Negus averted a fracas by recommending the dilution of the wine with hot water and sugar. Attention was diverted from the point at issue to a discussion of the merits of wine and water, which ended in the compound being nicknamed ‘negus.'”[1]

Jane Austen even mentioned negus in her novel The Watsons, and its popularity remained into the Regency Era, where she and other balls attendees, like her sister Cassandra or her cousin Eliza de Feuillide, would have expected to drink it.

Parsnip Wine. There were many types of wines in the 1700s. Parsnip wine was one. The parsnips were boiled until tender, drained through a sieve or colander, to which large amounts of sugar were added. This was boiled and sieved, hops were added, and the combination was boiled again. Finally, yeast was added. It then stood for four days before it was ready to be consumed.

Illustration from Johann Georg Sturm’s 1796 Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen of the parsnip. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Raspberry Brandy. Georgian Era drinks often relied on brandy as did this drink that used scalded raspberries to which a pound of sugar was added to every quart of juice. The raspberries and sugar were boiled and skimmed and when the mixture was cold and clear, equal amounts of brandy were added. 

Rice Milk. This was a combination of rice, cinnamon, milk, beaten eggs, and spoonful of flour to thicken. Currants or nutmeg could also be added to the mixture.

Saloop. Saloop was a greasy looking beverage that was extremely popular with climbing boys partly because it had a stimulating quality. It was sometimes spelled salep or salop and was a powder from the root of the Red-handed Orchis plant that was found in meadows and pastures. Before coffee or tea became the morning drink, saloop was available and could easily be found on Fleet Street at stalls or stands.

Shrub. This eighteenth century drink varied and varied by recipe. In generally however it included some sort of fruit juice or citrus syrup and sugar. Alcohol, such as rum or brandy, was also usually included. Among the people who drank this was Benjamin Franklin, whose version contained had oranges, dark rum, and sugar. Martha Washington, George Washington’s wife, also had her own recipe that follows:

“Take one quart of brandy & a quart of white wine, & a quart of spring water. mix them together then slice 3 leamons & put in with a pound of sugar. stir these very well, cover yr pot close, & let it stand 3 dayes, stiring it every day. then strayne it, & bottle it, & crush ye leamons very well inside it.[2]

Spruce Beer. When explorer Jacques Cartier was exploring the St. Lawrence River in 1536, local natives showed him how to boil the needles of evergreen trees to save his men who were dying from scurvy. Later spruce was added to ship-brewed beer during explorations of North America’s west coast. Spruce beer also became a common drink in the colonial United States due to recipes like the following one from 1767:

“To make a cask of spruce beer, there ought to be a boiler large enough to hold one-fourth more than the quantity under treatment. This is to be filled with water, and as soon as it begins to boil a bundle of spruce branches, broken into pieces, is to be thrown into the boiler. The bundle should be about twenty-one inches round at the place of ligature. The water is to be kept boiling until the rind, or bark, becomes easily detachable from the branches; and whilst this process is going on, a bushel of oats is to be roasted, several times over in a large iron pan, and fifteen sea-biscuits, or, instead of these, twelve or fifteen pounds of bread, cut into slices, should be well browned, and mixed all together with the liquid in the boiler. The branches of spruce are then to be taken out, and the fire extinguished. The oats and bread fall to the bottom; the leaves etc., floating on the surface of the liquid being skimmed off. Six parts of molasses, or coarse syrup of sugar, or, in default of these, twelve or thirteen pounds of brown sugar, are to be added. This mixture should be immediately turned into a fresh port-wine cask, and if it be intended to give a colour to the beer, the dregs, and from fix to six pints of the wine, may be left in the cask. Whilst the liquid remains tepid, half a pint of yeast must be added, and briskly stirred about in order to incorporate it well with the decoction; after which the cask is to be filled up to the bung-hole, and the latter left open. The liquid will ferment, and throw off a great deal of impure matter. In proportion to the quantity which works out, the cask is to be replenished with some of the same decoction, kept apart for the purpose. If the bung-hole is stopped at the end of twenty-four hours, the spruce remains sharp, like cyder; but if it is intended to drink it softer, the bung must not be put in until the fermentation is over, taking care to replenish the cask twice a day.”[3]

Spruce beer sellers in Jamaica. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Warm Heart. This was said to be a nice cordial for evening parties, or if water was added, it could be used as a refreshing beverage during warm weather. It consisted of lemons, milk, syrup, spirits, brandy, rum, and wine.

Whip Syllabub. Another of the popular Georgian Era drinks was a relative to posset (hot milk curdled with wine or ale that was popular in medieval times). Whip Syllabub involved grating a lemon peel into a pint of a cream, adding sugar and a pint of wine with either orange or lemon juice. The mixture was then whipped and allowed to separate or put through a sieve and drained. What was left was then floated in a glass of wine. The liquid portion was sucked with a straw and the froth was eaten with a spoon.


  • [1] Dictionary of National Biography, 1894, p. 168.
  • [2] Dietsch, Michael, Shrubs, 2014, Kindle.
  • [3] The Popular Educator, Volumes 5-6, 1767, p. 353.

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