Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite mead recipe is captured in a book by her beekeeper Charles Butler. ‘The Feminine Monarchie, or a Treatise concerning Bees and the due ordering of Bees,’ 1609
Transcription by Justin du Coeur.
One excellent Receipt I will here recite: and it is of that which our renowned
Queen Elizabeth, of happy memory, did so well like, that she would every year have
a vessel of it.
First, gather a bushel of Sweet-briar-leaves, and a bushel of Thyme, half a bushel of
Rosemary, and a peck of Bay-leaves. Seeth all these (being well washed) in a
Furnace of fair water:
let them boil the space of half an hour, or better: and then pour out all the water and
herbs into a Vat, and let it stand till it be but milk-warm: then strain the water from
the herbs, and take to every six Gallons of water one Gallon of the finest Honey, and
put it into the Born, and labor it together half an hour: then let it stand two days,
stirring it well twice or thrice each day. Then take the Liquor and boil it anew: and
when it doeth (?seed?), skim it as long as there remaineth any Dross. When it is
clear, put it into the Vat as before, and there let it be cooled. You must then have in a
readiness a Kive of new Ale or Beer, which as soon as you have emptied, suddenly
whelm it upside down, and set it up again, and presently put in the Metheglen, and let
it stand three days a working. And then tun it up in Barrels, tying at every Tap-hole
(by a Pack-thread) a little bag of beaten Cloves and Mace, to the value of an ounce. It
must stand half a year before it be drunk.