From Gin Punch to Collins – Part 7: John Collins and his Punch

Limmer's Hotel - Titelbild.

John Collins was in charge of the Coffee Room at Limmer’s Hotel and was famous for his Gin Punch. It was in his honour that the Collins got its name, which is nothing other than a gin punch.

John Collins

Limmer’s was not only famous for its gin punch, but had another attraction: John Collins, who, as we have already quoted, gave some of his young customers an escape when necessary, where they did not have to go through the easily observed portal. His name was immortalised by the drink of the same name. [31] This is reason enough to take a closer look at his person.

John Collins was born in London around 1770 and was in charge of the Coffee Room at Limmer’s Hotel from at least 1807, perhaps as early as 1790, until a year or two before his death in 1843. Two grandsons of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan were regulars at Limmer’s and immortalised him in the well-known poem: [11]

My name is John Collins, head-waiter at Limmers,
The corner of Conduit street, Hanover Square;
My chief occupation is filling of brimmers
To solace young gentlemen, laden with care. [11]

American turf register and sporting magazine. September 1840. Page 451-452.
American turf register and sporting magazine. September 1840. Page 451-452. [12-451] [12-452]

In 1840 we read about Limmer’s Hotel in an article about the horse races at Ascot: “ASCOT RACES. … Together we hied to Limmer‘s, were ould John Collins was found in one of his best humors – (rather a rarity in these days, as John does not bear the badgering which we younkers in olden times inflicted on him; but ’tis a good old chap, nevertheless, and, when he wills, can be agreeable)”. [12-451] [12-452]

The new sporting magazine, Vol. 8, 1844. Page 353.
The new sporting magazine, Vol. 8, 1844. Page 353. [19-353]

In 1844 a narration appeared in The New Sporting Magazine, set in 1837, which we have already quoted in connection with Limmer’s. Here now comes the continuation of the text: “We have digressed not a little upon our way to this well-known spot, and therefore resume, taking up the period that our crazy vehicles drew up at the door of the “Prince of Vale‘s, or Limber‘s Hotel,” as our cabman called it. There, at the door, was to be seen that one-leged hero, who, except when he is employed upon some important mission, is never absent from his post. There, as the bell rang, might be seen the trusty John Collin waddling down the passage to get a view of the new comers; there might be witnessed the popular Renaud, looking over the slate to see what rooms were disengaged, the chamber matron also appears, followed by boots and a waiterette. “35, 36, and 14, for the Cambridge ‚gent,‘” shouts the “bedmaker.” “What say you of a glass of Mr. Wombwell‘s mixture, gentlemen?” inquires Mr. Collin. … As a matter of course, the beverage is ordered and drunk, … and dinner ordered.” [19-352] [19-353]

Limmer’s Gin Punch

As we have documented, Limmer’s was already famous for its Gin Punch in 1814. However, this can only have been a version with still water, otherwise the Garrick Club Punch published in 1835, in which soda water was used for the first time, would not have been such a sensation. At some point, however – one has to assume – the Gin Punch at Limmer’s, served by John Collins, must also have been made with soda water. This tasted so good and was the talk of the town that this punch must eventually have been named after John Collins.

The different punch versions

However, it is not known how the house gin punch was actually prepared. No recipe has been handed down to us, and we have to rely on conjecture. David Wondrich, for example, is of the opinion that there may well have been different versions of it, called “Sir Godfrey’s mixture“, “Mr. Wombwell’s mixture” or “Prince of Wales mixture“, [1-210] unfortunately without citation. We will return to these versions in more detail later.

The components of the gin punch

Tait's Edinburgh Magazine. October 1833. Page 25.
Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine. October 1833. Page 25. [6-25]

Against this background, David Wondrich asks himself whether Limmer’s Gin Punch only contained gin, sugar, soda water and ice (as in Collins), and which gin was used. It could have been Dutch genever, English Old Tom gin or an English dry gin. He argues that American bartenders preferred a genever in the Collins and that the English used an English Old Tom gin. He does not substantiate the former, but the latter with a passage from Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine of 1833. [1-210] There, in a narrative that appeared anonymously but is said to have been written by Catherine Gore, it says: “and, at length, after a liberal indulgence in Hudson’s best, … proposals were made for a bowl of “Gin-Punch!” Lord Thomas Howard, a lieutenant in the -th, was announced to be a masterhand in the scientific brew; … The materials were brought. The regimental bowl, … lemons … and a bottle of Hodge’s best, redolent of Holborn Hill, appeared in as orderly array as though we had been supping at Limmer’s.” [1-210] [1-211] [6-25] [7]

What was Hodge’s Best? Hodges & Chamberlain were gin producers in London. They produced a gin which they called Old Tom. In 1812, the first newspaper advertisements appeared for this Old Tom Gin from Hodges & Chamberlain. It was considered a premium product, and if you asked anyone for a London gin in those days, they say it was Hodges’ Old Tom Gin. Hodge’s Best was an Old Tom gin, as can be seen from an Australian newspaper advertisement from 1857:“Hodge’s best London old tom”. [1-211] [8]

The new sporting magazine. July 1836. Page 206.
The new sporting magazine. July 1836. Page 206. [10-206]

David Wondrich claims that the gin punch at Limmer’s was made with Hodge’s Best, along with lemon juice, water, and sweetened with Capillaire. [11] He does not provide a source citation, but we have probably found the origin of his insight. An 1836 article in the New Sporting Magazine says of the Ascot Club:“The table was adorned with the relics of the coffee equipage, flanked by tall bottles, ominously labelled brandy, rum, gin, whiskey, Hollands, &c. While one large bottle of Capillaire, denoted the experience of the worthy host with respect to the mysteries of Honest John Collins. At one end of the table was a huge jug of iced punch”. [1-211] [10-206]

Which spirit was used to prepare a punch by John Collins is not specified here, nor is soda water mentioned as an ingredient in any way, but it is mentioned that he used Capillaire for his punch, at least around the year 1836. So was Limmer’s Gin Punch also prepared with Capillaire?


We found two fundamentally different recipes for Capillaire in old books. One is a sugar syrup flavoured with orange blossom water. According to David Wondrich, this was the usual recipe in England. The second variant is said to correspond to the French original and is made with an infusion of maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris [28-58]). [1-211]

Anonymus: The family receipt-book; London, 1808. Page 13.
Anonymus: The family receipt-book; London, 1808. Page 13. [5-13]

A book of the year 1808 writes: “Genuine Syrup of Capillaire, as made in France. Take an ounce of maidenhair, put it in a kettle of boiling water; and, instantly slackening the fire, leave it infusing, for at least two hours, on the warm embers. Then, passing it through the sieve, pour it into a syrup which has been already prepared in the following manner — Put a pound of finely powdered loaf sugar into a saucepan with a quarter of a pint of water; scum it carefully as it boils, and continue the boiling and scumming, till it appears that, on wetting two fingers, first in cold water, then in the liquid, and instantly again in cold water, the sugar which adhered to the fingers breaks cleanly off. The decoction of maidenhair is now to be poured in; and, after being well mixed with the syrup, but not suffered to boil, must be poured into a closely covered earthen vessel, placed in hot ashes, and so remain for about three days. It will be known that the process is compleated, by finding that, when a little of the syrup is taken on one finger, rubbed against the next, and the two are gently expanded, the thread formed between them is sufficiently tenacious not readily to break. The syrup being then made, is to be immediately bottled; but the bottles must not be closed with cork and bladder till it is entirely cold. This is the genuine French method. Our English capillaire-makers, take a shorter way, and find it a thriving trade. They merely boil up about a pint of orange-flower water in a gallon of common syrup, sometimes coloured with saffron, &c. according to fancy, which is sold as syrup of capillaire, the French name for the maidenhair plant or moss, though not a single particle of that fine pectoral herb ever enters into the composition. This, though a great absurdity, is the less a crime, in England, since it is here seldom used medicinally; and the orange-flower syrup, as it ought to be called, makes a very pleasant and delicate liquor, on being simply mixed with spring water. Our dealers, however, will not hastily part with the merchantable name of capillaire: for they constantly paste labels printed in the French language on their bottles, asserting it, with the same contempt of truth, to be actually made at Montpellier; where, as a fine balsamic syrup, for the numerous valetudinarians who resort to that salubrious part of France, the genuine capillaire syrup first acquired it’s very great reputation.[5-13]

So David Wondrich comes to the question of whether perhaps the addition of orange blossom water in the form of capillaire made the certain difference to Limmer’s Gin Punch. That could be one reason why it has been so praised. [1-211]

Anonymus: Apicius redivivus. London, 1817. No. 470, Punch.
Anonymus: Apicius redivivus. London, 1817. No. 470, Punch. [4-No.470]

But the use of capillaire was certainly nothing unusual in England. As early as 1817, people were writing about punch, “The above quantity of fruit, with about three quarters of a pounf of sugar, will make sufficient sherbet for three quarts of punch. Pine apple rum, and capillaire syrup instead of part of the sugar, may be used, if convenient, with considerable advantage to the flavour; though it will prove excellent punch without either of these auxiliaries, or even Seville orange.[4-No.470]

Anonymus: Apicius redivivus. London, 1817. No. 476, Capillaire.
Anonymus: Apicius redivivus. London, 1817. No. 476, Capillaire. [4-No.476]

The same book also tells us how to make capillaire: “To a pint of clarified syrup add a wineglass of curaçao.[4-No.476]

Anonymus: Apicius redivivus. London, 1817. No. 475, Clarified Syrup.
Anonymus: Apicius redivivus. London, 1817. No. 475, Clarified Syrup. [4-No.475]

The book also describes how to make clarified sugar syrup  “Clarified Syrup. (No. 475.) Put a pound and three quarters (avoirdupois) of fine lump sugar into a clean stewpan, that is well tinned, with one pint of cold spring water, and set it over a moderate fire: beat about the sixth part of the white of an egg with a table-spoonful of cold water; put it to the sugar before it gets warm, and stir it well together. Watch it, and when it boils take off the scum; and keep it boiling till no scum rises: when it is perfectly clear, run it through a silk sieve, or a clean napkin: put it into a close stopped bottle; it will keep for months, and is an elegant article on the sideboard for sweetenings.[4-No.475]

Also in 1827, in Oxford Night Caps, for example, the Oxford Punch and the Cider Cup are also prepared with Capillaire.  [27-10] [27-28]

Anonymus: The innkeeper and butler's guide. London, 1808. Page 176-177.
Anonymus: The innkeeper and butler’s guide. London, 1808. Page 176-177. [14-176] [14-177]

However, if it is said that the capillaire, that is, an ingredient containing orange blossom water or maidenhair fern, was an ingredient that John Collins put in his punch, it is surprising why the more recent recipes for a Collins no longer contain these flavourings. How is this to be understood? Another book, published in 1808 in the eighth edition as a handbook for innkeepers, provides information about this, and has a completely different conception of what capillaire is: “CAPILLAIRE. For three gallons, take fourteen pounds of loaf sugar and seven pounds of moist, with eight fresh eggs well beaten; then mix your eggs with the sugar. Boil the same in four gallons of water, and skim it as long as any scum appears, then strain it through a coarse bag, and add three pennyweights of the essence of lemons. This is an excellent thing for sweetening spirits; particularly in making grog, punch, or negus. Many of the first innkeepers and publicans keep this by them for those purposes.[14-176] [14-177]

So, according to this report, capillaire is nothing more than a clarified sugar syrup with a little lemon essence.

H. Sabine & assistants: The publican’s sure guide. 1807, page 14.
H. Sabine & assistants: The publican’s sure guide. 1807, page 14. [49-14]

Another recipe, from 1807 and from another book for innkeepers, is similar: “Capillaire. Take twelve pounds of lump Sugar, and four pounds of Lisbon Sugar, six Eggs, well beat together, boil the same in three gallons of Water, and skim it as long as any scum appears, strain it through a bag, and when milk warm, add two penny-weights of Essence of Lemon.[49-14]

The egg of these two recipes seem a bit strange to us today, but it served to clarify the sugar, as the next two recipes will show. At that time, sugar was obviously not as pure as it is today.

One pennyweight corresponds to about 1.55 grams. [15] So in three gallons of water – about 13.6 litres – about 4.65 grams of the lemon essence was added. This is not much, and so we ask ourselves whether the lemon essence was added for taste reasons or for chemical reasons to achieve a beautiful colour. The latter can be assumed on the basis of another recipe. Fredericke Luise Löffler wrote in her cookbook in 1798: “To clarify sugar. Mix a tablespoonful of egg foam with 1/2 litre of water in the pan in which the sugar is purified, add 2 pounds of crumbled sugar and place the pan over a low heat; before the sugar begins to boil, a cloudy foam will be visible, this is carefully removed and the sugar is now allowed to boil well, then poured through a clean cloth dipped in water into a porcelain bowl and kept for use. If you want the sugar to be quite white, you can add the juice of half a lemon while it is boiling.” [9]

“Zucker zu klären. Ein Eßlöffel Eierschaum wird mit 1/2 Liter Wasser in der Pfanne verrührt, in welcher der Zucker geläutert wird, dazu nimmt man 2 Pfund gebröckelten Zucker und setzt den Topf über gelinde Hitze; ehe der Zucker zu kochen anfängt, wird ein trüber Schaum sichtbar sein, diesen nimmt man sorgfälig ab und läßt nun den Zucker gut aufkochen, gießt ihn dann durch ein reines, in Wasser getauchtes Tuch in eine Porzellanschüssel und bewahrt ihn zum Gebrauch. Will man den Zucker recht weiß haben, so kann man den Saft von einer halben Zitrone während des Kochens dazugeben.[9]

In its ninth edition from 1839, the Hamburgisches Kochbuch, Hamburg Cookery Book,  writes: “To clarify and boil sugar. Sugar is beaten into small pieces, cold water is poured over it (namely, a quart of water for every six pounds of sugar); when it has melted a little, it is allowed to boil slowly, then the whites of three eggs are beaten to a stiff foam and added to the sugar with a little cold water. When it has boiled a little with this foam, all the impurities attach themselves to it; then it is skimmed off until the impurities are from the sugar, and the sugar is left to boil until it draws a thread, or until it begins to stiffen; then it is poured through a hair sieve into another casserole.[13-521]

Anonymus: Hamburgisches Kochbuch. Hamburg, 1839. Page 521.
Anonymus: Hamburgisches Kochbuch. Hamburg, 1839. Page 521. [13-521]

“Zucker zu klären und zu kochen. Man schlägt den Zucker in kleine Stücke, gießt kaltes Wasser darauf, (nämlich auf sechs Pfund Zucker ein Quartier Wasser); wenn er damit ein wenig zergangen, läßt man ihn langsam kochen, schlägt alsdann das Weiße von drei Eiern zu einem steifen Schaum und thut ihn mit ein wenig kaltem Wasser zu dem Zucker. Wenn er mit diesem Schaume ein wenig gekocht, so setzt sich alle das Unreine an denselben; dann schäumt man es ab, bis das Unreine von dem Zucker ist, läßt den Zucker so lange kochen, bis er einen Faden zieht, oder bis er anfängt steif zu werden; dann gießt man ihn durch ein Haarsieb in eine andere Casserole.[13-521]

The German term “Kapillärsirup” (capillary syrup) seems to go back to the same root word. This is the trade name for a glucose syrup with a water content of approx. 18% that is frequently used in the confectionery industry. [3] The German-English dictionary by Langenscheidt translates Kapillärsirup into English as capillaire. [2]

If one now takes into account that the Collins recipes are all prepared with sugar or sugar syrup only, it is very likely that “capillaire” is a synonym for “sugar syrup”.

In connection with the clarification of sugar, there is another interesting story to tell. At the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, Napoleon’s army suffered a defeat. More than 20 000 soldiers died in this battle. However, archaeologists could not find any remains on the battlefields. In total, they found no more than two skeletons, and they had no explanation for this. But this mystery now seems to be solved. Historians Bernard Wilkin, Robin Schäfer and British archaeologist Tony Pollard have found that grave robbers removed the bones to make money. Bones were used to make a phosphate-rich bone meal, which was used as fertilizer. However, there was also another possible use: the ground bones were used in the sugar industry. Due to the increasing number of sugar beet factories, the demand for bones in the region was high from the 1830s. The boiled down sugar beet juice had to be filtered, and since it was discovered in 1811 that granulated bone charcoal provided better filtration, the need for it was great. In some cases, this process is still used today, using cattle bones. At that time, a bone trade was carried on far beyond the borders of Belgium and also in other parts of Europe. Officially, only animal bones were used, but as demand and price exploded, resourceful businessmen looked for alternatives. Apparently they also helped themselves on the battlefield of Waterloo. Illegal excavations were reported as early as 1834. It must be assumed that the region made considerable money from the desecration of corpses. It is estimated that a total of 1700 tons of human and horse bones were on the battlefield, which could have earned a huge fortune of around 240,000 francs at the time. [48]

Recipe suggestion

David Wondrich suggests as a possible recipe for the Limmer’s Gin Punch to prepare it like the Garrick’s Club Gin Punch, but with an Old Tom Gin and Capillaire instead of Maraschino. [1-212]

The Cambrian, 13. May 1843, page 2. Advertisement for strong unsweetened gin for mixing.
The Cambrian, 13. May 1843, page 2. Advertisement for strong unsweetened gin for mixing. [30]

We are critical of this proposal. On the one hand, one would assume that the late Limmer’s Gin Punch corresponds in principle to a Collins. Why else would it have been named after the head waiter? This means: no Capillaire in the sense of David Wondrich, with orange blossom water, but ordinary sugar syrup instead. Regarding the gin, we clearly have a different opinion. Use an unsweetened gin, not an Old Tom. We will explain why in a separate article dealing with the history of gin. This much can be said in brief: the gin was adulterated by the middlemen and lowered in alcohol content. In order to hide the associated loss of quality, it was sweetened. So those who valued quality at the time went for the more expensive, unsweetened gin. The clientele of Limmer’s was rich enough to be able to afford this. As evidence, we would like to quote again an advertisement from 1843, which explicitly asks for the interest of the higher and lower nobility as well as the public in general, and offers “unsweetened gin for mixing”. [30]

„Sir Godfrey‘s mixture“, „Mr. Wombwell‘s mixture“ and „Prince of Wales mixture“

David Wondrich brought up “Sir Godfrey’s mixture“, “Mr. Wombwell’s mixture” and “Prince of Wales mixture” as possible gin-punch variants. However, he could not define more precisely what these should be. For us, this was reason enough to carry out additional research – with astonishing findings. So let’s go through these three mixtures one by one.

Godfrey’s Mixture

New Sporting Magazine, vol. 19. April 1850. Page 267.
New Sporting Magazine, vol. 19. April 1850. Page 267. [45-267]

In 1850, Lord William Lennox published a story set in the past in the New Sporting Magazine. There he writes: “A dinner at Limmer’s. … No sooner had we drawn up at this far-famed hotel of olden times, the records of which would furnish many an interesting anecdote of life, aye, even of death, than I was most warmly welcomed by that celebrated character, Mr. Collin, immortalized in song by a genuine descendant, in birth, wit, and talent of that brilliant genius – Sheridan. The couplet runs as follows: – “My name is John Collin, head waiter at Limmer’s, At the corner of Conduit Street, Hanover Square; My chief occupation is filling up brimmers, To solace young gentlemen laden with care.” “Our house is almost full, sir,” said this waiter of the waiters. “Chambermaid, prepare No. 13. Joe, take the portmanteau and cases into Captain Hamilton’s room. (John always gave brevet rank.) Got any book for the Derby, sir? Perhaps you’d like a glass of sherry, or Sir Godfrey’s mixture, after your journey.”” [29-124] [29-125] [45-267]

The Sporting Review, September 1842. Page 180-181.
The Sporting Review, September 1842. Page 180-181. [42-180] [42-181]

Incidentally, this poem was also published before, in 1842, in “My Second Deal” by Lord William Lennox, albeit in a modified form. He writes there:  “Upon my arrival in town, I proceed without delay to the principal horse-dealers, but saw nothing that would suit. Upon going into Limmer‘s to ask advice from that hero, immortalized in song, and respected by all who knew him: –

“Whose name is John Collin, head waiter at Limmer‘s
At the corner of Conduit-street, Hanover-square,
Whose chief occupation is filling up brimmers,
um junge, mit Sorge erfüllte Herren zu trösten.”” [42-180] [42-181]

Presumably on the basis of Lord William Lennox’s story from 1850, David Wondrich raises the possibility that Sir Godfrey’s Micture is a punch variant. So who could this Sir Godfrey be? First of all, traditionally, he would most likely have to be a knight or baronet, or perhaps an incumbent, otherwise he would not be called a sir. [32] So it could be Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster, the 5th Baronet, and Member of Parliament, who died in 1836, or his son, of the same name, as 6th Baronet. [33] [36-221] [36-626] [37-212] [37-272] [37-600] [38] [39-153] [39-154] According to the documents of the time, it could perhaps also be Sir Godfrey William, Baron Mac Donald. [35-35]

However, the sources strongly suggest that Sir Godfrey’s Mixture is not a punch, but something else entirely. The mixture was also called Godfrey’s Cordial. It was a patented medicine developed by the apothecary Thomas Godfrey of Hunsdon in the county of Hertfordshire, north of London. He died in 1721, leaving no heirs, and others claimed to also own the formula. Some also attribute the drug to the apothecary Ambroise Hackwitz, who changed his name to Godfrey around the same time. [18]

The Lancet, 7. December 1823. Page 345.
The Lancet, 7. December 1823. Page 345. [26-345]

Thomas Wakley analysed the mixture in 1823 and its ingredients were published in the same year. It is said in The Lancet: “Godfrey‘s Cordial. – Venice treacle, ginger, of each two ounces; rectified spirits of wine, three pints; oil of sassafras, six drachms; water, three gallons; treacle, fourteen pounds; tincture of opium, four pints. [18] [26-345]

The Cambrian. 25. July 1840, Page 4.
The Cambrian. 25. July 1840, Page 4. [24]

Geoffrey’s Mixture was ubiquitous. It is reported in a newspaper article from 1840: “USE OF OPIATES. – There is not another county where narcotics are so much used as in that of Lincoln. It has been calculated by one who has turned his attention to the magnitude of this growing evil for many years, that in the south of Lincolshire (i. e. in the fenny parts) every second customer who enters the shop of a druggist is a purchaser of opium, laudanum, Godfrey‘s mixture, or ether; and every third customer who enters that of the grocer fetches away tobacco. The use of opium and laudanum is much on the increase, but not, as stated in the newspaper press, in proportion to the spread of teetotalism; on the contrary, it will be invariably found that all opium or laudanum takers are beer or gin drinkers, while teetotalers are bound by the principles of abstinence societies to abstain from every intoxicating agent. The practice of opium-taking is not confined to the age and infirm. – Lincoln Gaz.” [16-175] [24]

First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 294.
First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 294. [25-294]

The true extent of the use is described in 1869. Children are tranquilised with Godfrey’s Mixture, i.e. opium. The reports say: “Yes, they do give them Godfrey’s (opium), but it’s not the schoolmistresses, the mothers give it them before they go out.” [25-294]

First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 295.
First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 295. [25-295]

The mothers leave their children to go out for work; even children that are suckling are left the whole day; often 35 children in the charge of one old woman. Sometimes they give them Godfrey’s (opium) to keep them quiet while they are out.” [25-295]

First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 296.
First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 296. [25-296]

they leave their children with a neighbour. They often give them Godfrey’s, gin, laudanum, and poppy water to keep them quiet.[25-296]

First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 389.
First report of the commissioners. London, 1868. Page 389. [25-389]

Women go out very much to work, those who have small children leave them in the charge of some woman, and much mischief is done by the use of Godfrey’s cordial which is given to the children to keep them quiet.” [25-389]

But it is not only in England that children are treated in this way, but also in Australia. In 1850, parents are encouraged in the Sidney Morning Herald that they should never be “never without a flask of Godfrey’s cordial… in the nursery.[17]

A leaflet printed in German advertises the usefulness of Godfrey’s Mixture and recommends it to all, including pregnant women and small babies. Unfortunately, it is not known when or where it was published. It states: “Doctor Benjamin Godfrey’s Cordial. This remedy fully corresponds to its name; in that it has great influence in the cure of many diseases; for in all violent pains, where the sick, by the vehemence of fear, almost perish, as in colic, bellyache, in all kinds of fluxes and discharges, and to relieve or to [illegible …] the violent effects of a vomitive or purgative remedy, when they should become dangerous, has often been very happily used. Likewise, the swallowing, side stitching, sniffling, or discharge of the humours on the lungs, which causes a rasping cough, have been wonderfully stilled by its use. I recommend this cordial as the best remedy for weak women when they are pregnant, to prevent premature birth, by taking away the vexatious pains which trouble them before the actual time of birth; also, immediately after birth, take two spoonfuls of this cordial to relieve the almost unbearable afterpains to which some women are subjected. In blood-flow as well as stomachache, which is accompanied by vomiting and constant diarrhea, it has had so much greater effect than all other medicines that it is hardly to be believed. The use of this cordial is quite excellent for children who are weak and have no rest, for it gives rest to restless children, and to those who are troubled with bellyache, vomiting or diarrhoea, it immediately gives relief. It is of great use to children who have difficulty in getting teeth, as well as to those who are inclined to outgrow them, or who otherwise have a weak constitution; in these cases it is a strengthening remedy. It is very useful in all fevers, smallpox and measles. It may be given with safety and good success in flatulence, especially when pain is present, as it is very powerful in aborting the winds, and this to admiration. It quiets the cramp of the stomach and bowels, and drives the winds above and below, which are often the cause of the cramp. The benefit of this cordial is (with God’s help) so great, that those who have experience of it, in all evil fits, take recourse to it. Children who are a year old take a spoonful in the evening; those who are half a year old take half a tea-spoonful, and so in proportion to those who are still younger. To be on the safe side, begin with a smaller dose, which can then be increased according to circumstances. Men or women may take 2 spoonfuls at bedtime and, according to circumstances, also every 2 hours. Shake the glass so that everything that has settled to the bottom is properly mixed. A jar costing 6 pens contains 3 or more ounces. N.B. In order that the public may not be deceived by imitation, I have put my name at the top of the jars, because imitation is also sold under the title Godfrey’s Cordial at the top of the jars. It is made and sold at the great warehouse in London, where it is also still for sale, at a considerable discount to all apothecaries, Daffis Elixir, Bateman’s Drops, Scotch Pills, Brittish Oil, Hungarian Water, Aqua Mellis or King’s Honey Water.[46] [47]

Doctor Benjamin Godfrey's Cordial.
Doctor Benjamin Godfrey’s Cordial. [46]

– “Doctor Benjamin Godfrey’s Cordial. Dieses Arzeney=Mittel entspricht völlig seinem Namen; indem es großen Einfluß, auf die Heilung vieler Krankheiten hat; denn in allen heftigen Schmerzen, wo die Kranken, durch die Heftigkeit der Angst, beynahe umkommen, als in Colicken, Grimmen der Eingeweide, in allen Arten von Flüßen und Ansleerungen, und um die heftigen Wirkungen eines Vomitives= oder Burgier=Mittels, wenn sie gefährlich werden sollten, zu lindern oder zu [unlesbar …] oft sehr glücklich angewendet worden. Ebenfalls sind, der Schlucken, Seitenstechen, Schnupfen oder Ausleerung der Feuchtigkeiten auf die Lunge welches einen krazenden Husten verursacht, durch dessen Gebrauch auf eine wunderbare Art gestillt worden. Dieses Cordial empfehle ich als das beste Hülfsmittel für schwache Weiber, wenn sie schwanger sind, um zu frühe Geburt zu verhindern, indem es die verdrießlichen Schmerzen wegnimmt die sie vor der eigentlichen Zeit der Geburt beunruhigen; auch nehme man, unmittelbar nach der Geburt, zwey Löffel voll von diesem Cordial, um die beynahe unerträglichen Nachwehen zu lindern, denen manche Weiber ausgesetzt sind. In Blut=Flüßen sowohl als in Leibschneiden, das mit Erbrechen und beständigen Durchlauf begleitet ist, hat es so viel größere Wirkung als alle andere Arzeneyen gethan, daß es kaum zu glauben ist. Der Gebrauch dieses Cordials ist ganz vortrefflich bey Kindern, die schwach sind und keine Ruhe haben, denn es giebt unruhigen Kindern Ruhe und denen die mit Grimmen, Erbrechen oder Durchlauf geplagt sind, verschaft es sogleich Linderung. Es ist denen Kindern von großem Nutzen, die mit Schwierigkeiten Zähne bekommen; so wie auch denen die zum auswachsen geneigt sind, oder die sonst eine schwache Constitution haben; in diesen Fällen ist es eine stärkende Arzeney. In allen Fiebern, Plattern und Masern ist es sehr dienlich. Man kann es mit Sicherheit und gutem Erfolge in Blähungen geben, besonders wen Schmerzen vorhanden, indem es zu Abtreibung der Winde sehr kräftig ist und dies zwar zur Bewunderung. Es stillet den Magenkrampf und der Eingeweide und treibet die Winde ober= und unterwärts, welche oftmals die Ursache des Krampfes sind. Der Nuze dieses Cordials ist (mit Gottes Hülfe) so groß, daß diejenigen die eine Erfahrung davon haben, in allen bösen Anfällen, hierzu ihre Zuflucht nehmen. Kinder, die ein Jahr alt sind, nehmen des Abends einen Löffel voll; die ein halb Jahr alt sind, nehmen einen halben Thee=Löffel voll, und so in Verhältniß bey noch jüngern. Um sicher zu gehen fange man mit einer kleinern Dosis an, welche man alsdann nach Gelegenheit der Umstände verstärken kann. Männer oder Weiber mögen 2 Löffel voll beym Schlafengehen und, nach Gelegenheit der Umstände auch alle 2 Stunden nehmen. Man schüttele das Glas, damit sich alles, was sich zu Boden gesezt hat, ordentlich vermische. In einem Glaße das 6 Pens kostet, sind 3 oder mehr Unzen enthalten. N.B. Damit das Publicum nicht durch nachgemachtes betrogen werden kann, so habe ich meinen Namen oben auf die Gläser gesetzt, indem auch nachgemachtes unter dem Titul Godfrey’s Cordial oben auf den Gläßern, verkauft wird. Es wird gemacht und verkauft auf dem großen Waarenhauße in London, wo ebenfalls noch zu verkaufen ist, mit beträchtlichem Nachlaß an alle Apotheker, Daffis Elixir, Bateman’s Tropfen, Scotch Pillen, Brittisch Oehl, Ungarisch Waßer, Aqua Mellis oder Königs Honig=Waßer.[46] [47]

So we see that Godfrey’s Mixture must have been generally known and used, and so it is not surprising that one was asked whether one wanted to have some of it after a journey. We can therefore consider the mystery of what Godfrey’s Mixture was all about to be solved. In any case, it was not a gin punch.

Wombwell’s Mixture

So let’s move on to the next puzzle. To Wombwell’s Mixture. We think we have found David Wondrich’s source in which a reference to Limmer’s Hotel is made. It is the narrative already quoted at the beginning, published in 1844 and set in 1837. There it says: “”What say you of a glass of Mr. Wombwell‘s mixture, gentlemen?” inquires Mr. Collin. … As a matter of course, the beverage is ordered and drunk, … and dinner ordered.[19-353]

David Wondrich now also thinks that Wombwell’s Mixture could be a special punch. So who was Mr. Wombwell? Since Mr. Wombwell is not referred to as Sir, he was certainly not a knight or baronet, but rather a non-noble person, even if there was a Sir George Wombwell in the period. [39-210] [41] [43-193]

George Wombwell.
George Wombwell. [44]

Presumably this will be George Wombwell, who was born in Essex in 1777, went to London around 1800 and became an animal showman famous in Britain and founder of Wombwell’s Travelling Menagerie, a travelling animal show. He performed several times at the British royal court. He died in 1850. [40] [41]

Unfortunately, we were unable to determine what George Wombwell liked to drink and what might have been understood by Wombwell’s Mixture. Maybe it really was a punch, but maybe not.

Prince of Wales’s Mixture

Anonymus: Frederick de Montford. A novel. Vol. I. London, 1811. Page 224.
Anonymus: Frederick de Montford. A novel. Vol. I. London, 1811. Page 224. [21-224]

Let us now turn to the final mystery, namely what the Prince of Wales’s Mixture is all about. It was mentioned in a novella in 1811: “three days have I now dined without a pinch of Prince of Wales‘s mixture!” [21-224]

Anonymus: What have we got London, 1820. Page xxiv.
Anonymus: What have we got London, 1820. Page xxiv. [20-XXIV]

It is also mentioned in 1820: ““That‘s your affair,” returned the other, very composedly; grasping the ring-neck of the cut-glass decanter of red port, with the three posterior fingers of his right hand, whilst he held a fragant pinch of the Prince of Wales‘s mixture between his fore-finger and thumb: “I know hwat I have got.”” [20-XXIV]

It talks about a pinch, so it can’t be a liquid. Besides, it must be something that is connected with food and drink? An advertisement from 1871 provides clarification:

The Merthyr Telegraph, 29. September 1871, page 2.
The Merthyr Telegraph, 29. September 1871, page 2. [22]

THE PRINCE OF WALES MIXTURE. TO ALL LOVERS OF FINE TEAS. T. BOWEN JONES & CO.- HAVE great pleasure in announcing that they have, after a considerable amount of careful attention to the study of Teas combined succeeded in producing this delicious Mixture; a rare combination of really Fine Teas, already well known as the „Prince of Wales’s Mixture,“ at 3s. per lb. Every Customer who will visit the Tea Warehouse and obtain a supply of this Excellent Mixture, will agree in the universal judgment pronounced by Connoisseurs that it is the most unique amalgamation ever produced. A Sterling Genuine Article of requisite flavour. Warranted Unadulterated. … Remember the Address. — T. BOWEN JONES & CO.’S Tea Warehouse, 20, High-street (opposite the Old Church, Merthyr, where every Customer will find the utmost attention, and be supplied with all Teas and other Goods. Warranted Genuine.” [22]

So the Prince of Wales’s Mixture is a tea mixture that was also mixed by a tea merchant in Wales in 1871, and he also says it was already well known; so it must have been around for some time, also by other tea merchants. This is a very interesting finding, because the tea blend thus designated, it is said, was originally developed for Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, who ascended the throne in 1936. The strong earthy aroma of this tea is said to have come from high quality Keemun tea from China’s Anhui province, which was blended with other Chinese black teas to create a complex flavour. Prince Edward first granted Twinings permission to sell his personal blend using his royal title in 1921. [23] [34] Apparently, however, tea blends of this name existed before that.

We should not be surprised if the tea blend named after the Prince of Wales was served at Limmer’s Hotel, because as we noted in the previous part of this series, the hotel was officially opened as “The Prince of Wales Coffee House and Limmer’s Hotel” and the later King George IV, who was also the Prince of Wales, maintained his own room here.

Now that we have learned more about John Collins and his Gin Punch, we will finally come to the conclusion of this series in the next post and deal with the drink that got its name after John Collins.

  1. David Wondrich: Punch. The Delight (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl. ISBN 978-0-399-53616-8. November 2010.
  2. https://de.langenscheidt.com/deutsch-englisch/kapillaersirup Kapillärsirup.
  3. https://roempp.thieme.de/lexicon/RD-11-00465?context=lexicon&contextId=toc_RD-11-00465 Kapillärsirup.
  4. https://archive.org/details/b21533908/page/n361/mode/2up/search/capillaire?q=negus Anonymus: Apicius redivivus; or The cook’s oracle: wherein especially the art of composing soups, sauces, and flavouring essences is made so clear and easy, by the quantity of each article being accurately stated by weight and measure, that every one may soon learn to dress a dinner, as well as the most experienced cook; being six hundred receipts, the result of actual experiments instituted in the kitchen of a physician, for the purpose of composing a culinary code for the rational epicure, and augmenting the alimentary enjoyments of private families; combining economy with elegance; and saving expense to housekeepers, and trouble to servants. London, 1817. Alternative: https://archive.org/details/apiciusredivivus00kitc/page/n357/mode/2up
  5. https://archive.org/details/b21531420/page/12/mode/2up?q=capillaire The family receipt-book; or, Universal repository of useful knowledge and experience in all the various branches of domestic oeconomy. Including scarce, curious, and valuable, select receipts, and choice secrets, in cookery, medicine … with specifications of approved patent medicines; all the most srviceable preparations for domestic purposes; and numerous successful improvements in the ornamental as well as useful arts, manufactures, &c. extracted from the records of the Patent Office; and translated from foreign books and journals in all the languages of Europe. London, 1808.
  6. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.94626/page/n13?q=%22captain+wargrave%22 Anonymus: Wine. In: Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine, No. XIX, October 1833, page 25.
  7. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_Gore Catherine Gore.
  8. https://www.thedailybeast.com/solving-the-riddle-of-old-tom-gin Solving the Riddle of Old Tom Gin. By David Wondrich, 13. July 2017.
  9. https://www.naehrwertrechner.de/info/zucker-zu-lautern-eingemachte-fruchte-und-safte/zucker-zu-klaren/ Zucker zu klären. By Friedericke Luise Löffler, 1798.
  10. https://books.google.de/books?id=Zww8AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA206&lpg=PA206&dq=%22mysteries+of+Honest+John+Collins%22&source=bl&ots=MIw0Y3vAgA&sig=ACfU3U1ZrWGaiY-OJnBzUvX8Wv6BjS2iYw&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwie4P7r2bTmAhWzlFwKHbAXCXEQ6AEwAXoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22mysteries%20of%20Honest%20John%20Collins%22&f=false The new sporting magazine. Volume 11. No. 63. Therein: The Ascot Cup. Page 206-208. July 1836.
  11. https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-the-john-collins-became-the-tom-collins?ref=scroll How the John Collins Became the Tom Collins. By David Wondrich, 11. July 2018.
  12. https://archive.org/details/americanturfregi11skin/page/450?q=limmer%27s American turf register and sporting magazine. September 1840.
  13. https://books.google.de/books?id=I0FlAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA521&lpg=PA521&dq=%22zucker+zu+kl%C3%A4ren%22&source=bl&ots=md3cCtLvXV&sig=ACfU3U27lV5KaKNdHQAB8wzqYtFB1jFT_w&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiJqMCKt7XvAhWv3eAKHYGcDok4ChDoATABegQIEBAD#v=onepage&q=%22zucker%20zu%20kl%C3%A4ren%22&f=false Anonymus: Hamburgisches Koch-Buch für angehende Hausfrauen und Köchinnen in Hamburg und Niedersachsen. Ninth edition. Hamburg und Lüneburg, 1839.
  14. https://archive.org/details/b21527453?q=negus Anonymus: The innkeeper and butler’s guide, or, a directory in the making and managing of British wines; together with directions for the managing, colouring and flavouring of foreign wines and spirits, and for making British compounds, peppermint, anniseed, shrub, &c. Eighth edition. London 1808.
  15. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennyweight Pennyweight.
  16. https://archive.org/details/3461387/page/n183?q=%22Godfrey%27s+mixture%22 The Teetotaler, 21. November 1840. Page 175.
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20180602160006/http://seeingthelighterside.com/godfreys-cordial/ Godfrey’s Cordial: the ‘good old days’ when everyone drugged their babies. By Rebecca Bowyer, 24. January 2017.
  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godfrey%27s_Cordial Godfrey’s Cordial.
  19. https://books.google.de/books?id=g4MEAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA353&lpg=PA353&dq=what+is+%22wombwell%27s+mixture%22&source=bl&ots=8RYszT4tq-&sig=ACfU3U1hY0LFXjehHL-nLS9mVLBbSCMXSw&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiUxJm9k9fkAhXqwAIHHSQNAPMQ6AEwAXoECAIQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22wombwell’s%20mixture%22&f=false The new sporting magazine, Vol. 8, 1844.
  20. https://books.google.de/books?id=R0YtUL-MP04C&pg=PR24&lpg=PR24&dq=%22prince+of+wales%27s+mixture%22&source=bl&ots=Levyt5ZSdg&sig=ACfU3U3SsT0RuBTD1BBXQ6dKc9660dCJCw&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7s9_cjNzkAhXSYlAKHSLiA_kQ6AEwBXoECAUQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22prince%20of%20wales’s%20mixture%22&f=false Anonymus: What have we got? Or, all our glories; a poetico-political morceau. Fragment I. London, 1820.
  21. https://books.google.de/books?id=XJAuAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA224&lpg=PA224&dq=%22prince+of+wales%27s+mixture%22&source=bl&ots=iwCKz2WPw-&sig=ACfU3U0kNPqPJ4xioLD8ZfQbCiQFp9e5mA&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7s9_cjNzkAhXSYlAKHSLiA_kQ6AEwB3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22prince%20of%20wales’s%20mixture%22&f=false Anonymus: Frederick de Montford. A novel. Vol. I. London, 1811.
  22. https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3075507/3075509/2/ The Merthyr Telegraph, 29. September 1871, page 2.
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Wales_tea_blend Prince of Wales tea blend.
  24. https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3329855/3329859/22/ The Cambrian. 25. July 1840, page 4.
  25. https://archive.org/details/cu31924002402133/page/n537?q=”godfrey’s” First report of the commissioners, with appendix part I. London, 1868.
  26. https://archive.org/details/lancetmed1823wakl/page/344?q=%22Godfrey%27s+Cordial%22 The Lancet, 7. December 1823. Page 345. Compositions Of Quack Medicines.
  27. Richard Cook: Oxford Night Caps. Being a Collection of Receipts for Making Various Beverages Used in the University. Oxford (Henry Slatter) & London (Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green), 1827.
  28. William Terrington: Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks. Collection of Recipes for „Cups“ and Other Compounded Drinks, and of General Information on Beverages of All Kinds. London & New York, George Routledge & Sons, 1869.
  29. https://archive.org/details/percyhamiltonora03lenn New Sporting Magazine, volume 19, page 267, April 1850
  30. https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3330585/3330587/9/ The Cambrian, 13. May 1843, page 2.
  31. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85033781/1876-11-17/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1789&index=0&rows=20&words=brimmers+filling&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1963&proxtext=%22filling+of+brimmers%22&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1 The Last of Limmer’s. In: The True Northerner, 17. November 1876, page 3.
  32. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir Sir.
  33. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Godfrey_Webster,_5th_Baronet Sir Godfrey Webster, 5th Baronet.
  34. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_VIII. Eduard VIII.
  35. https://archive.org/details/heraldiccalendar00skeyrich/page/34?q=%22Sir+Godfrey%22 Anonymus: The heraldic calendar: a list of the nobility and gentry whose arms are registered, and pedigrees recorded in the herald’s office in Ireland. Dublin, 1846.
  36. https://archive.org/details/peeragebritishe01innegoog/page/n262?q=%22Sir+Godfrey%22 Edmund Lodge: The peerage of the British Empire as at present existing. Twelfth edition. London, 1843.
  37. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.222129/page/n639?q=%22Sir+Godfrey%22 Edmund Lodge: The peerage of the British Empire as at present existing. Tenth edition. London, (1841).
  38. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_baronets Webster baronets.
  39. https://archive.org/details/debrettsbaroneta00debrrich/page/106?q=%22Sir+Godfrey%22 William Courthope (Hrsg.): Debrett’s baronetage of England; with alphabetical lists of such baronetcies as have merged in the peerage, or have become extinct, and also of the existing baronets of Nova Scotia and Ireland. Seventh edition. London, 1835.
  40. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Wombwell George Wombwell.
  41. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Wombwell_(disambiguation) George Wombwell (disambiguation).
  42. https://archive.org/details/sportingreview01cravgoog/page/n200?q=Limmer%27s The Sporting Review, September 1842.
  43. https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101064004672&view=1up&seq=205 Lord William Pitt Lennox: Celebrities I have known; with episodes, political, social, sporting, and theatrical. Second series. Col. I. London, 1877.
  44. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Menagerie.george.wombwell.jpg George Wombwell (1777–1850) Schausteller und Besitzer einer Wandermenagerie.
  45. https://books.google.de/books?id=GYUEAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA267&dq=%22godfrey%27s+mixture%22&hl=de&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSk8OhqdvmAhXGY1AKHem7Bh8Q6AEISTAD#v=onepage&q=%22godfrey’s%20mixture%22&f=false New Sporting Magazine, volume 19, page 267, April 1850.
  46. https://digital.libraries.psu.edu/digital/collection/broadsided/id/5093/ Doctor Benjamin Godfrey’s Cordial.
  47. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/161277620?q=%22godfrey%27s+Cordial%22&c=book&versionId=175815946 Doctor Benjamin Godfrey’s Cordial.
  48. https://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/napoleon-bonaparte-bei-waterloo-leichenschaenderei-fuer-die-zuckerindustrie-a-15d73a5f-4068-4c9d-afcf-532e37f55e06 Leichenschänderei für die Zuckerindustrie, 26. August 2022.
  49. https://archive.org/details/b22029436/ H. Sabine & assistants: The publican’s sure guide, or, every man his own cellarman; containing directions of the greatest importance to their welfare, and to the comfort and satisfaction of the community at large. London, 1807.

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Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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