Delays, and Cook’s Grog

A mermaid sketch card: watercolour and ink, 2.5x3.5 inches

A mermaid sketch card: watercolour and ink, 2.5×3.5 inches

I’m about to set sail (on a ferryboat) to the great dry inland of BC, and fear that I may have to leave you all high and dry on our story until next Tuesday — I’m setting off with two partial pages, but then I realized that I will probably have no way to scan them and send them off to you. Arrrgh! So next Tuesday (August 18), the winds being willing, I will post the next two pages at one time — so be sure to check them both and find out why Hart Jones feels he must feed the mermaid a libation of grog!

And what exactly is grog, anyway? According to the Wikipedia article on the subject, it was a drink made with water or “small beer” (a weak beer), lemon or lime juice, and rum, to help combat scurvy. Nowadays, however, it can refer to any alcoholic drink.  Aboard The Mermaid, scurvy isn’t so much of a worry, because she is a coastal vessel in a mild climate, able to get plenty of fresh fruit and veggies (and Cook makes sure of that) — so they have their own grog recipe that they like, made of cider infused with spices that they trade for in the Southern Isles. It’s not always the same, but Cook makes it with a medium-sweet cider (did you notice all those barrels down by the galley?), sticks of cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, ginger root, and cloves. He makes a big batch of concentrated syrup using the spices and some fresh squeezed cider (so no alcohol yet) by heating it in a kettle. He bottles it up and seals it, then he adds the spice infusion to the hard cider when he taps it. If they have lemons and lime on board, he adds a squeeze or two to taste. Mmmm!

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