On the occasion of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee …

Shared by Helen Benefield Billings, in the Mix Travel Writer
Article by Jim Henderson, Coastal Illustrated
Photo by Cooper N. Reid

On June 2, Great Britain will commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth’s reign – 70 years on the throne. This is the longest reign of any British monarch, surpassing Queen Victoria’s almost-64 years. The Queen, although increasingly frail, is expected to attend a number of gala events.

One such event is a Jubilee luncheon for 100 or so folks that will feature a recreation of a cocktail served at her coronation in 1953. Since it features gin, it is distinctly British but appropriately fairly low-proof; it is, after all, lunch with the Queen.

Coronation Cocktail

Ingredients:

3/4 oz. dry vermouth

3/4 oz. Dubonnet

3/4 oz. gin

1/2 cup crushed ice

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass.

The glass should, of course, be one of those shallow coupe glasses, à la Nick and Nora, preferably with a silvery rim to simulate platinum. The palace likely has glasses actually rimmed with the precious metal, but we commoners must make do with what we have.

Interestingly, it is said Her Majesty’s favorite drink, the one she typically enjoys before dinner on a daily basis, also features both gin and Dubonnet. It is reported that a palace page, Paul Whybrew, is charged with mixing the drink, which involves 2 oz. of Dubonnet and 1 oz. of gin stirred with crushed ice. The concoction is then strained into a coupe glass and garnished with a lemon peel. Scandalous rags in Britain have reported that the Queen partakes of as many as four of these prior to her evening meal. Some even say she starts at lunch (I think it was Meghan Markle who started that rumor). All I know for certain is if Paul Whybrew decides to retire, I am petitioning for his job.

Interestingly, this particular Coronation Cocktail was not the first. The original was created on the occasion of Edward VII’s investiture in 1902.

The Original Coronation Cocktail

Ingredients:

2 oz. dry vermouth

1 oz. fino sherry

2 dashes maraschino liqueur

3 dashes orange bitters

Preparation:

Have your page add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

This one might be an acquired taste. Folks don’t typically mix sherry and vermouth these days; in fact, few drink sherry. I’m sticking with Elizabeth’s version. Edward had something in common with Prince Charles … his mother, Queen Victoria, enjoyed a long reign, with him waiting as heir-apparent for close to 60 years.

Of course they didn’t just drink at the coronation; there had to be food as well. I was particularly intrigued by a dish served at Elizabeth’s post-coronation luncheon: Coronation Chicken Salad. This recipe is to be repeated at the upcoming Jubilee celebration, so it’s endured for 70 years. Must be finger-lickin’ good.

Coronation Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

Cooked chicken breast (in chunks), dried apricots (chopped), mayonnaise crème fraîche, olive oil, curry powder, white onion/or shallot (chopped), tomato paste, red wine, bay leaf, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper, almond flakes

Preparation:

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat.

Add in the onion, bay leaf and curry powder and gently cook for 2 minutes.

Add in the tomato paste, red wine and water and bring to a gentle boil.

Pour in the lemon juice and a pinch of sugar, then season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Simmer for 2 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced, then remove from the heat. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and allow it to cool.

Once the sauce is ready, you can fold in the remaining ingredients.

In a large bowl mix together the prepared sauce with the mayonnaise, chopped apricots and crème fraîche.

Add in the chicken breast chunks, almond flakes, and mix gently all the ingredients together.

Funny, the British. They didn’t include any measurements. This recipe was developed by Rosemary Hume, founder of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. I realize she was preparing this for a crowd, but a few hints would be helpful. (Editor’s note: Eyeball the ingredients, keeping proportions like that of your favorite chicken salad recipe that members of your family have been making for generations.) Is it a quart of tomato paste and a gallon of wine or …? I’m just going to wing it and hope for the best on June 2. I can always double up on the cocktails.

There’s going to be a special dessert as well. A nationwide contest was recently held, sponsored by the venerable Fortnum & Mason (purveyors to the Queen), and the winner, Jemma Melvin, was announced on the BBC by the Duchess of Cornwall. Her creation, called Lemon and Swiss Roll Amaretti Trifle sounds delicious. You can look up the incredibly complicated recipe online (it includes measurements and everything). Even Prince Harry is said to be eager to try it – if it’s OK with Meghan.

We should now all join in singing “God Save the Queen.” The tune is the same as “My Country ‘tis of Thee,” so if you don’t know the words just hum along.