Saturday, 25 June 2011

Imperial Pop

Imperialising. Not a new phenomenon at all. As these texts demonstrate.

Imperial pop. It conjures up an image of pop, but with a higher alcohol content. With half a pint of spirits in it, this recipe seems to fit my imagination:


Put two ounces of cream of tartar, and the juice and parings of two lemons, into a stone jar ; pour on them seven quarts of boiling water, stir and cover close, when cold sweeten with loaf sugar and straining it, bottle and cork it tight. Add in bottling half a pint of spirits of the best kind.— This is a pleasant liquor and considered wholesome."
"The vintner's guide" by William Phipps, 1825, page 126.

This version sounds rather less alcoholic:

"Recipe for the beverage called imperial pop.—Put into an earthen pot two pounds of sugar, two lemons cut into slices, and two ounces of cream of tartar. Add nine quarts of boiling water, mix the materials well, cover the vessel with a stout cloth and let it cool.

When cold, spread two table spoons full of good yeast from beer on a thin slice of bread and put into the vessel, which must be covered as before, and left till the next day. It may then be filtered through a fine cloth, and bottled and corked tight in strong bottles. In the course of three or four days the fermentation will be nearly complete, and the liquor may be drunk."
"American journal of science, Volume 27" , 1835, page 200.

That's it. Just me being amused by a name.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, this is what we call here "cream soda" - it's a soft drink, therefore no alcohol. It sounds like the original pop recipe might produce some alcohol but as sold here, cream soda is strictly a soft drink.

The terms pop and soda are used interchangeably in some areas, and in others, one or the other is used, always to mean a fizzy soft drink.

In Montreal where I grew up, "ginger ale" meant any soda or pop. "What kind of ginger ale you got?". It could be Pepsi, Coke, Seven-Up, Cott Cola, Orange Crush, etc.

Same thing in parts of the States. "What's for Cokes?" in the South meant, what soda or pop, of any kind, do you have?


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, do they put half a pint of spirits into cream soda?

Gary Gillman said...

Well as I said this version appears to have been alcoholic, just as ginger beer probably was originally, but both forms gave rise to a soft drink version. The recipe is virtually identical to that used for pop cream soda here but for any alcohol produced (see Wikipedia on cream soda).


Gary Gillman said...

As a follow up, notice these sugar/yeast/flavouring recipes, some incorporating cream of tartar, which emphasize that drunk quickly, these pop drinks have little if any alcohol: the author's specific object was to make sodas at home without ethanol:

Therefore, there is every reason to think the Imperial Pop recipe, which avoids the use of the term "beer", had little alcohol as typically consumed.

My point was the underlying taste, though. Cream of tartar imparts a specific taste, known to those who like cream soda, which a little alcohol couldn't affect much.

Cream soda is particularly good with hot dogs and french fries.

In Montreal again where I grew up, there were restaurants in the East End which specialized in homely fare called steamed hot dogs, served usually with excellent french fries alongside. Only pop was available, of which, apart from Coke and Pepsi, ginger ale, spruce beer and cream soda were amongst the most popular. It may be noted each of these has an alcoholic doppelganger, but by this time they were strictly soft drinks. The spruce beer in one place that still survives, Montreal Pool Room on boul. St-Laurent, was often home-made in fact but never had alcohol.

Come to think of it, good old Coke originally had extract of the coca plant in it, so was a type of stimulant. All this class of drinks probably were stimulants originally but for varying reasons (perhaps Temperance, or simply palate reasons) veered away from alcoholic potentiality to comfort beverages for the young and the abstemious.

I haven't had a cream soda in probably 30 years but I'll get one soon and add some vodka to it to see what it's like both ways.


Gary Gillman said...

Before someone tells me, I'll clarify: cream of tartar does not impart taste as such, it is an acid. Sugar is the main taste of cream soda, with vanilla sometimes added. But it contributes to a creamy, smooth silky taste by inhibiting crystalization.