This text was copied from Wikipedia on 26 May 2024 at 4:10AM.

Hippocrates's sleeve being used to make hippocras wine
TypeWine mixed with sugar and spices
Country of origin Roman Empire
IngredientsWine, cinnamon, spices, sugar

Hippocras[1][2] sometimes spelled hipocras or hypocras, is a drink made from wine mixed with sugar and spices, usually including cinnamon, and possibly heated. After steeping the spices in the sweetened wine for a day, the spices are strained out through a conical cloth filter bag called a manicum hippocraticum or Hippocratic sleeve (originally devised by the 5th century BC Greek physician Hippocrates to filter water), from which the name of the drink is derived.[3]


Spiced wine was popular in the Roman Empire, as recorded in the writings of Pliny the Elder and Apicius. In the 12th century, a spiced wine named "pimen" or "piment" was mentioned by Chrétien de Troyes. During the 13th century, the city of Montpellier had a reputation for trading spiced wines with England. The first recipes for spiced wine appeared at the end of the 13th century (recipes for red wine and piment found in the Tractatus de Modo) or at the beginning of the 14th century (recipe for piment in the Regimen sanitatis (Regiment de Sanitat) of Arnaldus de Villa Nova). Since 1390, recipes for piment have also been called ipocras or ypocras (Forme of Cury in England, Ménagier de Paris or Viandier de Taillevent in France), probably with reference and tribute to Hippocrates. In the Catalan cookbook Llibre del Coch (1520) the recipe is given as pimentes de clareya.

The drink became extremely popular, with a reputation as having various medicinal or even aphrodisiac properties.

In the 16th century, food was classified along two axes: cold or hot, dry or wet. People at that time believed in pursuing “balance” between these, for instance by stewing dry ingredients (like root vegetables) and roasting wet foods (like suckling pig). Wine was considered to be cold and dry, and so to this warm ingredients like sugar, ginger and cinnamon were added, creating hypocras.[4]

Cookbooks and pharmacological manuals both provide recipes. This traditional recipe goes back to 1631:

Take 10 lb. best Red wine or White wine, 1½ oz. cinnamon, 2 scruples cloves, 4 scruples of each cardamom and grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta), 3 drams ginger. Crush the spices coarsely and steep in the wine for 3 or 4 hours. Add 1½ lb. whitest sugar. Pass through the sleeve several times, and it is ready.[3]

Since the 16th century, the word has been generally spelled hippocras or hipocras in English and hypocras in French. Original recipes for hippocras were made until the 19th century, when it fell out of favor. This wine is made with sugar and spices. Sugar then was considered to be medicine and the spices varied according to the recipes. The main spices are: cinnamon, ginger, clove, grains of paradise and long pepper. An English text specifies that sugar was uniquely for the lords and honey was for the people. Since the 17th century, spiced wines, in France, have been generally prepared with fruits (apples, oranges, almonds) and with musk or ambergris. In England, in 1723, there was a recipe for red hippocras containing milk and brandy. The drink was well liked during medieval and Elizabethan times. Moreover, doctors prescribed it to aid digestion. It was served at most banquets all over Europe.

The drink was highly prized during the high and late Middle Ages. In France, it has been noted as the favorite drink of notorious baron Gilles de Rais (c. 1405 – 1440),, who reportedly drank several bottles every day and had his victims drink it prior to assault. Later, King Louis XIV of France (r. 1643–1715) was also known to enjoy it. In those times, the drink was a highly valued gift-item, in the same vein as jam and fruit preserves. Hippocras fell out of fashion and was forgotten during the 18th century.

In France, hypocras is still produced in the Ariège and Haute Loire areas, though in very small quantities.[5]

Since 1996 the population of Basel have revived the New Year's morning celebration of the so-called Aadringgede (a drinking cheer). The "Dreizack"-fountain in the "Freiestrasse" will be filled with hippocras, spelled Hypokras in the local Swiss-German dialect. In Basel it is a tradition in winter to drink Hypokras and eat the famous Basler Läggerli (biscuits) with it.

The drink may have eventually inspired the Spaniards in their 18th-century development of sangria. While sweeter than hippocras, sangria is still often made with spices, including cinnamon, ginger, and pepper.

See also


  1. ^ "hippocras". Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ "hippocras definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-04-26.
  3. ^ a b Goldstein, Darra (2015). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. p. 333. ISBN 9780199313617.
  4. ^ Laudan, Rachel (2006). "Birth of the Modern Diet". Scientific American. 16 (4): 4–11. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1206-4sp.
  5. ^ "Accueil boutique / NOTRE CAVE" (in French). Today, Frédéric Bayer has taken over from his father. We are based in St Germain Laprade (in Haute-Loire, 7kms from Puy en Velay) and we are always faithful to our original recipes

Further reading

External links

1893 text

A drink, composed usually of red wine, but sometimes of white, with the addition of sugar and spices. Sir Walter Scott (“Quarterly Review,” vol. xxxiii.) says, after quoting this passage of Pepys, “Assuredly his pieces of bacchanalian casuistry can only be matched by that of Fielding’s chaplain of Newgate, who preferred punch to wine, because the former was a liquor nowhere spoken against in Scripture.”

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

5 Annotations

First Reading

jeannine  •  Link

From Pepys At Table by Driver and Berriedale-Johnson

(p. 75-76) The "'burnt' claret, the hypocras with which Pepys allowed himself to be deceived, and Christmas Lamb's wool -spiced ale with apples- are simple devices that have changed little over the centuries. Party guests who have followed Pepys intermittent example and sworn off wine altogether may be glad to of a cup which could certainly have been made with summer fruit available to Pepys, whether or not the idea occurred to him." Their recipes follow for a variety of "hypocras" recipes (some including wine!)

From the section subtitled AN HYPOCRAS OF WHITE WINE are 3 of the 5 recipes that Pepys may have enjoyed.

Mulled Wine

Into an enameled or stainless steel pan put 3 bruised cloves, ½ stick of cinnamon, lemon and orange peel pared, 4 ozs of sugar, and half a pint of water. Boil together for 15 minutes; then add grated nutmeg, a pint of full-blooded red wine, and a wine-glass of port. Do not allow to boil again, but heat, strain, and serve.


Bruise together a cinnamon stick, ½ oz. coriander seeds, a blade of mace, and 1 oz of green ginger. Boil a quart of water with 8 ozs sugar for 5 minutes to make syrup.
Macerate the spices for an hour or two in some of the wine (red or white) you propose to use. Heat the mixture with the rest of the bottle of wine, the juice of half a lemon, a gill of brandy, the syrup to taste, strain clear and serve.

Lamb's Wool

Roast 8 apples; mash the, and add a quart of old ale (Winter Warmer or equivalent will do nicely). Press and strain; add grated nutmeg, powdered ginger, and sugar to taste as it heats.

in aqua altissimus  •  Link

oathe ? Hypocras OED
Forms: 4-6 ypocras, (5 ypocrate), 6-7 ipocras, hipocras, 6-7 (9 arch.) ippocras, hypocras, 7- hippocras, -crass, (6 ypo-, ipo-, hypo-, -crass(e, -crase, -crace, -craze, 7 ippocrass(e, hyppocras). [a. OF. ipocras, ypocras (a1400), forms of the proper name Hippocrates; in sense 1, after the med.L. name, vinum Hippocraticum 'wine of Hippocrates', app. given to it because it was filtered through 'Hippocrates' sleeve' or 'bag': see next. See Skeat Chaucer V. 361.
c1369 CHAUCER Dethe Blaunche 571 Ne hele me may noo physicien, Noght ypocras, ne Galyen
1600 HEYWOOD 1st Pt. Edw. IV Wks. 1874 I. 10 We'le take the tankards from the conduit-cocks To fill with ipocras and drinke carouse.
1613 in Crt. & Times Jas. I (1849) I. 285 The king and queen were both present, and tasted wafers and hippocrass, as at ordinary weddings.

2. hippocras bag. A conical bag of cotton, linen, or flannel, used as a filter or strainer. Obs.
1601 HOLLAND Pliny II. 153 The wholesomest such as haue run through a strainer or Ipocras bag, and thereby lost some part of their strength.
1641 FRENCH Distill. v. (1651) 123 When you would have this or any other Liquor to be very clear, you may use the triple Hypocras bag.
1674 J. JOSSELYN Voy. New Eng. 190 Put them in an Hippocras bag and let it drain out of it self.
Hippocratic Name of a famous ancient Greek physician born about 460 B.C.
[ad. med.L. Hippocratic-us, f. Hippocrates: see prec.]
1. Of or belonging to Hippocrates; following the method, or made according to the receipt of Hippocrates. Hippocratic oath, an oath comprising the obligations and professional conduct of physicians, taken by those entering upon medical practice Hippocratic wine, spiced wine, hippocras.
c1620 BACON Wks. (1857) III. 831 Astringents..Hippocratic wines

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

This beverage was taken in France as a morning draught.—Southey's Common-Place Book.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

The wines of this period being more or less harsh and acid, it became customary to mix spices, sugar, and honey with them, which, under the name of 'piments,' were drunk as liqueurs now are. A banquet without piment would have wanted its greatest essential; indeed, it was considered such a luxury that the clergy were forbidden to taste it except on high holidays. The two favourite piments were hypocras and clarry. The first was made of red or white wine, mixed with ginger, cinnamon, grains, sugar, and turesoll, if intended for the nobility and gentry; common people being contented with ginger, long pepper, and clarified honey. It derived its name from being strained through a particular shaped bag called 'Hippocrates's sleeve.' Hypocras was drunk between the courses, or at the termination of the banquet, besides being often served with biscuits, only as a light morning-refection.
---Chambers's Journal, v.33. 1860.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.



  • Apr