I’m not entirely sure where I came across the recipe for Mulsum, I mean I know where. I was in the Brown University’s Rockefeller Library, around the fall of 2005 . But I do not remember from what journal exactly I copied the recipe into one of my little black Moleskine notebooks. All I know is my notebook says “Mulsum c. A.D. 350 Rome” and then proceeds with the ingredients list and some scrawling lines, sort of a personal shorthand, that denote my personal impatience with writing out cooking directions. Or anything really, which probably explains my lack of source citation that day.
I was intrigued by the date of the recipe and an ingredient that I was unfamiliar with. Mastic, what is mastic? Well it turns out mastic is the resin from a bush that grows on the Greek island of Chios. Now where does one find that in Little Rhody?
So I shelved the recipe, never having a chance to properly make it until a very nice coworker, who I had happened to mention the recipe to, brought me back a package of mastic from her trip to Greece. Finally a chance to figure out what this archaic recipe and unusual ingredient could produce.
Well it produces a wonderfully fragrant and slightly sweet drink. A perfect aperitif and probably one that not many, if any, of your guests will have had before.
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
- 6 oz. of honey
- 1/2 t. of anise seed, bruised
- 1/2 t. mastic, crushed (optional)*
- 1/2 t. rose water
- Put 1 c. of wine in a sauce pan with the honey. Heat gently to near boiling, stirring until the honey is dissolved. Skim if necessary. Turn off heat.
- Bruise anise and crush mastic in a mortar and pestle, stir into the warm wine and allow to cool.
- Add the rest of the wine and the rose water and chill overnight. Serve chilled.