by Emily May
Imagine the year is 1816 and you're at the Worthington's masquerade ball...
There's something about a masquerade—a freedom, an edge of the risqué. The music has an edge to it, a slight wildness not found at more formal balls. The waltz is no staid Almack’s dance, but something far more exhilarating and fast-paced.The musicians’ exuberance is infectious. Your partner whirls you around the dance floor until you're breathless and laughing.
The music stops. A winged fairy flits past, giggling behind her mask, pursued by a horned satyr.
‘Would you like some punch?’ your partner asks, as he escorts you off the dance floor.
Recklessly you nod.
People drank a lot of alcohol in the Regency. It wasn't uncommon for men to have ale at breakfast, or to drink several bottles of wine with their dinner. So at the Worthington's masquerade ball there is alcohol aplenty. Deep red clarets, light Rhone whites, sparkling flutes of champagne -- and the famous Worthington punch.
There were a number of different types of punch during the Regency. Rum Punch had rum (obviously), lemon, arrack (a coarse spirit), and sugar. Negus consisted of port, lemon, sugar, and spices. Regent's Punch was a potent mix of rum, brandy, hock (a white wine), curacao (an orange-flavoured liqueur), champagne, and various fruits.
It's a variation of Regent's Punch that the Worthingtons serve, with slices of strawberry and orange floating in it. You sip it, as the music swirls around you. Eyes glitter behind masks, laughter is loud, and the guests blatantly flirt with one another as they dance.
And maybe you drink a little too much punch and steal an illicit kiss with another guest...
That particular tale, with the masquerade ball and the punch, is Lady Isabella's, the heroine of Beauty and the Scarred Hero, which is out this month in the UK. I've never been to a proper masquerade ball, but I've been to a number of fancy dress parties, and they've been loads of fun! I can only imagine what a proper masquerade ball would be like, with everyone masked. I think it would be a heady experience--especially if Regent's Punch was served!
|Here's me as a cancan girl at a Wild West fancy dress party
(with two cowgirls called Ali and Paula)
Glasses and music image courtesty of WPClipart.