Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cyder, Perry and Punch

Dear Mr. Northbridge,
       The trees have begun to turn here and there has been some sweet cyder available for sale in the market square, so I beg your indulgence as I offer counsel on your choices of beverage for the Muster Day and Garden Party. In your letter of the 20th ultimate, you mentioned having bowls of punch as part of the offerings on the day. May I humbly suggest, sir, that you consider providing cyder to the men at the muster. They will have been standing or exercising in the hot sun for the better part of the day and will have developed a prodigious thirst. It would cost you a princely sum to slak their thirst with punch as the makings of a good punch are all imported with the exception of the water. Indeed, punch is meant to be enjoyed in small quantities over time and quaffing a large amount in a short time may render some senseless. Cyder is locally made and is the usual drink of many farmers and mechanics who start their day with a tankard of it. Indeed, you most likely keep a supply of cyder for household use yourself.

      I would recommend, sir, that you have two butts of cyder set aside for the muster day. This will reduce your expense or allow you to re-apportion your expenditures for other things necessary for the day. If your orchard is not of a size to produce the amount needed in excess of home use, I'm sure that you could obtain the quantity from neighbors who produce extra as a market crop. If you wish to offer a cyder that is different from the type locally made, I suggest the receipt from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, to fortify and flavor the cyder.

    Perry is another choice that some of the men may enjoy. I can not obtain perry in quantity for the tavern locally but as many of the merchant ship owners from the middle provinces who are regular customers prefer perry to cyder, I purchase several hogsheads each fall. As the pears need to mature when they are picked before they are crushed and the resulting pomace needs to rest to lose some of the tannins before fermentation, perry is available in late fall. There is time for you to decide and still be able to obtain some for the event. Please remember that a hogshead of cyder or perry contains more liquid than a hogshead of beer or ale as you make your calculations.

    It is, of course, your choice, Mr. Northbridge, about what to serve your guests and I will happily abide by whatever you select. However, I would be remiss in my duty not to bring the matter to your attention especially as time is of the essence in securing cyder. You will indeed save a good deal of money using the locally produce cyder and storing it yourself. The men will enjoy a cool tankard of it on a hot day and cheer you as a considerate host. They will then be more appreciative of the fine punch you offer in all it's subtleties.  I await your instructions while remaining,

  Your humble and obedient servant,

    S. Glasse

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