Syllabub – A Christmas Drink with a British Past

Saturday I volunteered at the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm for their Homestead Christmas event. My job was to serve syllabub to visitors while telling them about the history of this historic drink. Let’s just say, I made many converts to this unusual and tasty drink!

It was quite fun to see people’s expressions when I asked them “Would you like some syllabub?” First answer was “What’s in it?” Then a look of horror came over their face as I said the first ingredient was rich cream. Sometimes it took a bit of convincing, but once people tried it they were totally sold.

So what is syllabub? According to Food History Timeline, syllabub dates back at least to Tudor times in England. The drink is a sweetened cream with either white wine or hard ale which when mixed with the cream creates a frothy drink. Other additions depending I suppose on the wealth of the family and the availability of the product, were grated nutmeg and the grated rind of either a lemon or an orange (or both).

For the drink we served at the Remick we used sparkling cider as the addition to the cream drink. The staff must have also added quite a bit of orange rind, because most people commented that it tasted like orange cremesicle ice cream. They also all noted that despite it being cream based, it tasted much lighter than eggnog.

Why were we serving it at the Remick? Our Colonial era British immigrants brought the drink with them to the new world where it was an extremely popular beverage.

Do note, that there is also a dessert syllabub that is much thicker than the drink version. Want to see what syllabubs served in 18th century syllabub glasses looked like? Check out this great website!

Here’s the recipe that the Remick used. You’ll see that this makes enough for a party and would be perfect for any Christmas event you are hosting. Feel free to substitute sparkling cider for a non-alcoholic version.

The recipe is from Hearthside Cooking, by Nancy Carter Crump.

  • 5 c. cream
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. sherry
  • Juice and grated rind of 3 large lemons or oranges

Combine cream with sugar and lemon or orange rind in a large punch bowl

Set aside

Combine the wine, sherry and lemon or orange juice and then slowly beat this into the cream mixture

Whip ingredients together until the syllabub is light and frothy, about 10 minutes

Cover and chill overnight if possible to let the flavors ripen


One Response to “Syllabub – A Christmas Drink with a British Past”

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  1. Bev Duell-Moore says:

    Yum! I might have to try this without the wine and sherry. Can it be saved for a day or so? The two of us would never drink up that much at once! Although, maybe if has the wine and sherry maybe we would! LOL
    Just kidding! The “hardest” thing we drink around here is sparkling grape juice!

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