What’s so special about the Queen of Hungary? Plat 99’s Michael Gray knows

Jan 24th, 2014 | by Eat Drink Indy | News, Wine & Spirits

I don’t even know if there even is a queen of Hungary now, but there was one in the 1300s, and she got an awesome ingredient named after her. Whoever she was, apparently she had someone create a sort of tonic for her, which also became used as a perfume. According to Wikipedia, “Hungary water (sometimes called “the Queen of Hungary’s Water”) was the first (European) alcohol-based perfume, claimed to date to about the late 14th century. According to legend, it was first formulated at the command of a Queen of Hungary, sometimes identified as Isabella but usually as Elisabeth, or in one document ‘Saint Elisabeth, Queen of Hungary.’”

What does all this have to do with Michael Gray or Indianapolis?

Mixologist Michael Gray, general manager at Plat 99 in The Alexander, uses locally made Queen of Hungary water in his appropriately name Queen of Hungary cocktail. Gray discovered  the ingredient last year. “I love walking through the farmers’ market,” Gray said, and when he discovered the fragrant Queen of Hungary water at Constance Campbell Ferry’s Hobbit Gardens booth, he bought up all she had and created a cocktail around it.

And it became a hit.”The Queen of Hungary is my best-selling cocktail by far,” he said.

Queen of Hungary Water at Plat 99

Queen of Hungary Water at Plat 99

The water itself, said Gray, is made from two dozen botanicals. His cocktail includes pear-infused Heartdland Vodka, Clement Creole shrubb, lemon and prosecco, in addition to a few drops of the Queen of Hungary water.

While the cocktail ingredients sound great, I might have to try the drink for its healing properties. Here’s a quote, found on the Word Salad II blog, about the curative properties of Queen of Hungary water, from Nicholas Culpepper’s 1693 Pharmacopeia Londoniensis:

“The water (containing an infusion of spirits) is admirable cure-all remedy of all kinds of cold and humidity-induced head ailments, apoplexies, epilepsies, dizziness, lethargy, crippleness, nerves diseases, rheumatism, flaws, spasms, loss of memory, coma, drowsiness, deafness, ear buzzing, derangement of vision, blood coagulation, mood-induced headaches headaches. Relieves toothache, useful for stomach cramps, pleuritis, lack of appetite, indigestion, obstruction of the liver, obstruction of the spleen, intestinal obstruction and contraction of the uterus. It receives and preserves natural heat, restores body functions and capabilities even at late age (saying has it). There are not many remedies producing that many good effects. Use internally in wine or vodka, rinse temples, breath in with your nose.”
I did get a whiff of the water and it really does smell wonderful. But after reading up on it, I’m going to have to try the actual drink. Gray’s version is available (while his stash of  Queen of Hungary water lasts, of course) on the Plat 99 drink menu for $12.


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