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A Sin and A Secret: The Mysterious Hail Storm

Welcome back to another "A Sin and A Secret." Mix yourself a drink based on a colonial recipe and then curl with a completely true, completely salacious story. Enjoy a new #ASinAndASecret post every week. Read more in the series here.

The Mysterious Hail Storm

On the evening of September 29, 1769, London Town residents received quite a shock. A dark cloud poured “cakes” of ice across the area. Windows were smashed, birds were killed, and crops destroyed.

The storm began out of the west at John Hesselius' house, “Primrose Hill,” just south of Spa Creek. (Today it is just south of Hilltop Lane across from Truxton Park.) The window panes on the west side and upper floor of Primrose Hill were smashed, “and many Windows in London-Town greatly damaged.”

The storm then traveled south through London Town. A country resident described the event saying, “A great Quantity of Hail-Stones fell, or rather Cakes of Ice, as they were flat and oblong, many of them Five or Six inches in Circumference.”

Crops of corn were cut down, “Dunghill Fowls, Partridges, Doves, and other smaller Birds, have been since found dead.”

The hail storm came surprisingly during a dry season. While London Town was bruised by the strange event, Annapolis was largely spared from the destruction of the storm. They experienced little more than rain and strong wind.

Mint Julep (Hailstorm)
Mint Julep (Hailstorm)

Quite fittingly, we have chosen to pair this story with the drink, a Hailstorm, a derivative of the Mint Julep, both of which were enjoyed in the colonial era. Depending on how much brandy you add, it'll either be a mint julep, hailstorm, or even a snowstorm!

Hailstorm (Mint Julep)

  • Silver of Pewter Mug

  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

  • Water

  • Fresh mint leaves

  • Ice

  • Bourbon whiskey

  • Brandy

  1. Use a silver mug

  2. Add ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

  3. Add enough water to make paste frosting

  4. Grind fresh mint leaves into paste

  5. Fill mug up to the top with finely scraped ice

  6. Add bourbon whiskey pouring it through the ice

  7. Stir with spoon until mug is frosted

  8. Top with sprigs of fresh mint

  9. To make this drink into a Snowstorm – add a dash of brandy on top

  10. To make this drink into a Hailstorm – add a more generous dash of brandy

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Grow the ReLeaf Fund

Recently, London Town launched the ReLeaf Fund. This newly created fund was inspired by the cycle of renewal in our gardens. Donations to it will ensure that London Town will grow again. Funds will be matched up to $35,000! Learn more and donate today!


London Town: Today and Tomorrow Survey

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Select Drink Recipe Sources for the Series:

  • Alderman, Clifford Lindsey, "Of Drinks & Drinkers," Early American Life, December 1975, pgs 87-88, 91 - 93

  • Bullock, Helen, The Williamsburg Art of Cookery or Accomplished Gentlewoman's Companion: Being a Collection of Upwards of Five Hundred of the Most Ancient and Approv'd Recipes in Virginia Cookery, Colonial Williamsburg and Dietz Press: Richmond, VA, 1938

  • Carr, Eve, "Home-Grown Treats," Mid-Atlantic Country, December, 1986 pgs. 34 - 35, 58

  • Gaspee Days Committee,

  • Mackin, Jeanne, "Flowing Bowl," Americana, pgs. 39 - 41

  • Stief, Frederick Philip, Eat, Drink, & Be Merry in Maryland, Johns Hopkins Press: Baltimore, MD, 1932

  • Tilp, Frederick, "Tips on Tippling from Tidewater Maryland," Maryland Magazine, 1978, pgs. 14 - 17

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