He was a sturdy, good-looking lad, with thick, light-brown hair curling loose upon his shoulders, and a fair face, cheeks flushed red with cold and exertion. His nose was running slightly, and he wiped it with the back of his wrapped hand, wincing slightly as he did so.
Jamie, both eyebrows raised, bowed politely to the visitor.
“My house is at your service, Your Highness,” he said, with a glance that took in the general disorder of the visitor’s attire. His stock was undone and hung loosely around his neck, half his buttons were done up awry, and the flies of his breeches flopped partially open.
I saw Jamie frown slightly at this, and he moved unobtrusively in front of the boy, to screen me from the indelicate sight.
“If I may present my wife, Your Highness?” he said. “Claire, my lady Broch Tuarach. Claire, this is His Highness, Prince Charles, son of King James of Scotland.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber, Chapter 11 – Useful Occupations
I hope we meet Prince Charles Edward Stuart this week! Like most men of his time (and birth) in Paris, Bonnie Prince Charlie (BPC) was a bit of a dandy. Expensive clothes, good food and the finest wines and spirits. His lack of funds wouldn’t have stopped him, nor would the long line of creditors standing at his door.
At sometime during his stay in France, legend holds that Charles commissioned, from his apothecary or physician, a personal tincture of essential oils. This signature tonic was used one drop at a time to flavour spirits, most likely brandy, and was medicinal in nature, strengthening and vitalizing the health of the prince.
We already know from Claire that this whole BPC/Jacobite thing is not going to end well, so I’m not giving the plot away when I tell you that Drambuie lore contends that Charles eventually ends up bestowing a bottle of, and the recipe for, his personal elixir to John MacKinnon, for his clan’s help in ensuring the Prince’s escape from the Highlands after Culloden.
Other sources of the legend suggest that it was a French bodyguard who actually gifted The MacKinnon with the bottle and the recipe, or that they were found on the battlefield at Culloden, among the vials, recipes, scales and handwritten recipes of Charle’s personal physician’s medicine box, abandoned in the haste of escape.
However, they got it, the recipe stayed with the MacKinnons for another 150 years, until a senior clansman gave the recipe to a close friend, John Ross, proprietor of The Broadford Hotel on the Isle of Skye. His son James improved (and sweetened) the recipe and served it to guests, who called it a “dram buidheach“ in Gaelic, or “the drink that satisfies.”
In 1893, James Ross registered the trademark for the anglicized version of the name, and Drambuie was born to the rest of the world.
Today, Drambuie is a blend of Scottish whisky and a secret combination of heather honey, herbs and spices. And while you can certainly indulge in the most iconic of Drambuie cocktails, the Rusty Nail, the Drambuie site has dozens of other sipping suggestions, including their twist on a classic Sour to enjoy while you watch the show.
I decided to step into the shoes of BPC’s apothecary and mix up my own cocktail for his Highness. Rhubarb is in season here on the west coast (and much of northern Europe), and is always available (most places) frozen. I know from friends that there are some regions, especially the US South, where you’ll never find rhubarb, fresh or frozen, no matter how many produce managers you ask for “pink celery.”
If you are in a rhubarb-free zone, check out Drambuie’s Drinks page. There’s something there for everyone.
Drambuie Rhubarb Sour
A pretty pink, sweet yet tart, drink that matches the Prince’s pink satin jacket, and disposition, like no other cocktail could.
- 2 oz Drambuie
- 2 oz rhubarb simple syrup (see recipe below)
- 1 oz fresh lemon or lime juice
- Lemon or lime zest, for garnish
- Sparkling water or soda, optional
Mix together the Drambuie, rhubarb simple syrup and citrus juice in a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice and serve. Add sparkling water or soda if desired.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
This syrup takes more time to cool than it does to make, and is also delicious when poured over vanilla ice cream.
Makes 1½ cups
- 1 cup chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium, and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to sit until the rhubarb is very tender, about 15 minutes. Strain, stir in the vanilla and cool completely.
Store in the fridge for up to 1 week.