In a world of pastels, ornate florals, and the luscious greenery and gossip of the English courtship lies “Bridgerton.” Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Shonda Rhimes’ latest, the series that details the scandals of the British aristocratic dating seasons in the Regency Era through the eyes of a local gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown. Think “Gossip Girl,” but make it early 19th century.
Unsurprisingly, the main vessels of communication between these characters are the countless societal events and balls they attend. At these events, drinking is limited; men will occasionally share a glass of dark liquor in a secluded smoking parlor, while women are rarely caught consuming any alcohol beyond Champagne or wine. So what do these fine ladies and gentlemen drink at their gatherings? After all, they must be absolutely parched after navigating a world of constant flirting to secure prosperous dowries and marriages. The answer is a beloved classic: lemonade!
Lemonade is to Regency-era socialites as Espresso Martinis are to Gen Z and millennials. While there are many iterations of the sugary, citrus-forward comfort drink, we know that in the medieval 13th century, the ancient Cairo Jewish community popularized a sweet lemon-y drink called qatarmizat. The hype persisted until the 17th century, when it officially took on the form of lemonade (limonade in French). The beverage became so trendy that Parisian vendors literally sold it right off their backs, carrying tanks and glasses through the streets, and even formed their own union called the Compagnie de Limonadiers.
In the 18th century, Britain made its mark on the drink through the innovation of carbonated water, an update that quickly made fizzy lemonade the new “it drink.” Later, in the Victorian era (most likely beyond Bridgerton’s time), fizzy lemonade was produced in mass quantities thanks to Joseph Schweppes’ compression pump.
Some also believe that Regency Era Lemonade involved alternative sweeteners such as orgeat. The delicate almond extract and orange flower water of orgeat adds an extra floral dimension to what we know as lemonade. No wonder Queen Charlotte and her cronies were downing this left and right!
Queen Charlotte’s Lemonade (Bridgerton/Regency Lemonade) Recipe
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 2 ounces sparkling water
- 2 ounces orgeat
- 1 ounce Le Moné apéritif (optional)
- Lemon wheel for garnish
- Combine lemon juice, orgeat, and Le Moné in a highball glass.
- Top with sparkling water and stir.
- Garnish with lemon wheel,