Badminton – Recipe from Jerry Thomas ‘The Bon Vivants Companion’

PEEL half of a middle-sized cucumber, and put it into a silver cup, with four ounces of powdered sugar, a little nutmeg, and a bottle of claret. When the sugar is thoroughly dissolved, pour in a bottle of soda water, and it is fit for use.

I played badminton for years growing up and really enjoyed it, it’s very simple to learn, much easier than tennis, and then when you get better its incredibly fast. The game started as the delightfully British named ‘Battledore and Shuttlecock’, I’m a little disappointed this was shortened to Badminton when the game was ‘formalised’ and they introduced such boring changes as a net, sides and general rules, before then it sounds like it was a bit of a free for all and much more chaotic fun. The first time we see any kind of rules published is in 1863, and these rules are pretty vague, and in the UK.

Which makes this drink potentially a little interesting as it first appears in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 guide. Instead of the drink being named after the game, I suspect it takes its name from Badminton House in Gloucestershire which was built in the early 1600’s, in fact variations of this name (Madmintune anyone?) go back to the Domesday Book so it seems like a better source of the name. Now I can’t imagine and American bartenders coming up with a drink like this and naming it after a family estate on the other side of the Atlantic, and looking at the ingredients it has a decidedly British feel to it, claret, silver cup and cucumber anyone? I’m hoping it’s a charming old family drink consumed on the estate for centuries, that was for a while popular on both sides of the Atlantic, I’m hoping this as the drink is probably the worst I’ve had so far this year, and has no redeeming properties, except maybe a cute story behind it, and presentation.