Mrs. S. Glasse
The trees have begun to turn here and there has been some sweet cyder available for sale in the market square, so I beg your indulgence as I offer counsel on your choices of beverage for the Muster Day and Garden Party. In your letter of the 20th ultimate, you mentioned having bowls of punch as part of the offerings on the day. May I humbly suggest, sir, that you consider providing cyder to the men at the muster. They will have been standing or exercising in the hot sun for the better part of the day and will have developed a prodigious thirst. It would cost you a princely sum to slak their thirst with punch as the makings of a good punch are all imported with the exception of the water. Indeed, punch is meant to be enjoyed in small quantities over time and quaffing a large amount in a short time may render some senseless. Cyder is locally made and is the usual drink of many farmers and mechanics who start their day with a tankard of it. Indeed, you most likely keep a supply of cyder for household use yourself.
I would recommend, sir, that you have two butts of cyder set aside for the muster day. This will reduce your expense or allow you to re-apportion your expenditures for other things necessary for the day. If your orchard is not of a size to produce the amount needed in excess of home use, I'm sure that you could obtain the quantity from neighbors who produce extra as a market crop. If you wish to offer a cyder that is different from the type locally made, I suggest the receipt from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, to fortify and flavor the cyder.
Perry is another choice that some of the men may enjoy. I can not obtain perry in quantity for the tavern locally but as many of the merchant ship owners from the middle provinces who are regular customers prefer perry to cyder, I purchase several hogsheads each fall. As the pears need to mature when they are picked before they are crushed and the resulting pomace needs to rest to lose some of the tannins before fermentation, perry is available in late fall. There is time for you to decide and still be able to obtain some for the event. Please remember that a hogshead of cyder or perry contains more liquid than a hogshead of beer or ale as you make your calculations.
It is, of course, your choice, Mr. Northbridge, about what to serve your guests and I will happily abide by whatever you select. However, I would be remiss in my duty not to bring the matter to your attention especially as time is of the essence in securing cyder. You will indeed save a good deal of money using the locally produce cyder and storing it yourself. The men will enjoy a cool tankard of it on a hot day and cheer you as a considerate host. They will then be more appreciative of the fine punch you offer in all it's subtleties. I await your instructions while remaining,
Your humble and obedient servant,
Dear Mr. Northbridge,
It is with humility that I accept your offer to cater the Garden Party at your home in Concord. It was kind of you to remember the events that I catered for the Governors Wentworth here in Portsmouth with such regard, not only for the fare provided but for the ability to create an elegant atmosphere while remaining within the proscibed budget.
It is my understanding from your letter that in addition to the Garden Party, a militia muster will be taking place in your fields. Further, the men from the militia company, along with their wives and possibly their children will be invited to partake of afternoon refreshment.
Careful consideration must be given in all aspects of planning such an event. There will be militiamen from sixteen to sixty years of age of all social levels, many of whom are not acquainted with refinement of any sort. Yet, you have mentioned that your cousin, Mrs. Peabody of Salem, and other ladies of refined taste will be in attendance along with families from the town. Yes, indeed, Mr. Northbridge, very careful planning will be key to the success of your event. It is no wonder that the keepers of the best taverns in Boston were unwilling to undertake the event and that you found the local keepers unequal to the task.
I have set aside 10 days in in late July and early August to oversee the preparation for the event, but can be flexible with the days as you require. It is my understanding that you are providing a staff of workers to carry out my directions, however, with your kind permission, I may bring one or two people who have experience working under my direction at events of this nature to insure an effortless presentation. I will bring some of the delicacies available here in Portsmouth to aid in elevating the fare to the level of refinement you desire.
A small ledger has been set aside to keep a strict account of all expenditures. I will consult you or your designee on a regular basis and submit bills on the schedule you have set. Your prompt attention to them will be most gratefully acknowledged.
If you have further instruction for me, please contact me at your earliest convenience by post or packet. I remain,
your most humble and obedient servant,
Mistress Sarah Glasse, prop.
Brown Dog Tavern,
Portsmouth, New Hampshire