What’s in a name?
Back in October I was skimming Twitter and saw the word “Rambooze” for the first time in my life in this tweet from the Shakespeare’s World transcription project. Listed among other drinks in Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.363, a late seventeenth-century receipt book, this eggy punch immediately caught my attention. What in the world was Rambooze?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word originates in the seventeenth-century and specifically refers to an alcoholic drink made with wine, eggs, milk, sugar, and other ingredients. Thomas Blount provides this definition in his 1656 dictionary: Glossographia, “Rambooz, a compound drink, at Cambridge, and is commonly made of Eggs, Ale, Wine and Sugar; but in Summer, of Milk, Wine, Sugar, and Rose water.” The compiler of the Folger manuscript was on-trend. Additional spellings in the OED include rambuzze, rambooz, rambuze, rambooze, ramboose. These are important because the mark the shift of the letter “z” into the word “booze” replacing the “s” in the Middle English words “bouse” and “bowse.” Thanks to “rambooze,” we now have “booze.”
With a name like this, I had to give Rambooze a try. Luckily, Whitney, Sarah, Phil, and Joseph were curious to try it, too.
Take one quart of Rhenish or White Wine three Eggs whites and Yolks
well beaten and strained through a Cotton cloth sugar to your tast
brew them well together with Nuttmeg or Ginger, you may also add as
much Ale or water as you please
My updated recipe combines the ramboose ingredients with the classic method for preparing an egg white cocktail
. Instead of beating everything with a whisk, I used Whitney’s cocktail shaker. Because I’d brought a growler of my favorite beer ever – Tired Hands Brewery’s “Saison Hands”
– for us to sip while we tested some recipes, that’s the beer we ended up using to taste the “as much Ale or water as you please” variation. Although I would never call “Saison Hand” an ale in modern classification, early modern beer was an entirely different thing and likely more sour. (Listen to this episode of Gastropod
if you’re interested in historical brews.)
1 bottle white wine
3 eggs, separated
1 t sugar
1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 bottle ale (optional)
Beat together wine and egg yolks. Strain through cheesecloth (or a paper coffee filter).
Put some ice in a cocktail shaker. Add a cup of the eggy-wine, 1 egg white, 1/4 t sugar, a pinch of the fresh ginger. Shake vigorously and a lovely froth will form. Pour into a fancy glass. (Optional: Add 2-3 oz ale.) Garnish with grated nutmeg.
The resulting beverage was interesting, but strange. Weirdly good eggnog? Eggnog made by a sociopath? Egg wine? We unanimously preferred it with the addition of the “ale.” But I’m not sure if I’ll ever make this one again. All the same, I think “ramboose” is quickly becoming synonymous with “festive gathering” among my friends.
Cheers! Here’s to a new year!
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