from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A cordial made from wine and flavored with spices, formerly used as a medicine.
Eat this slice of marchpane, it will help your digestion; then shall you be presented with a cup of claret hippocras, which is right healthful and stomachal.
Heyford, tell thy comely wife that I and Hastings will sup with her to-morrow, for her hippocras is a rare dainty.
Illustrations in medieval health handbooks often depict people buying spiced wine (hippocras), which being classed as drying and heating was considered a tasty and convenient remedy for a cool or wet affliction, or merely as a safeguard against the perils of the cold and wet winter: not unlike a vaccination.
To make hippocras: Take a gallon of claret of white wine, and put therein four ounces of ginger, an ounce and a half of nutmegs, of cloves one quarter, of sugar four pound; let all this stand together in a pot at least twelve hours, then take it, and put it into a clean bag made for the purpose, so that the wine may come with good leisure from the spices.
And for three days everybody who came to see the Princess was presented with a slice of bread-and-jam, a nightingale’s egg, and some hippocras.
Gothic food that goes back, perhaps, to the time of the Crusades, and with which the robust Normans gorged themselves of yore, fancying they saw on the table, in the light of the yellow torches, between tankards of hippocras and huge boars’ heads, the heads of Saracens to be devoured.
The word 'hippocras' comes into English through Old French, and ultimately from Medieval Latin 'vinum Hippocraticum' ("Hippocrates's wine") (because it was filtered through a Hippocrates sleeve).