Enhancing Your Game Night

At Puzzling Pursuits, we create exciting, immersive puzzle adventures. Our games transport you into the midst of a compelling story, during a specific time period, and make you the protagonist. In an effort to create an even more immersive and exciting experience, we created Enhance Your Game Night, a curated list of recipe, costume, and music recommendations that are custom tailored to the settings and events within our games. Whether you're just interested in adding a fun drink to your solo evening, or you want to cook a full-blown meal, dress-up, and have themed music for a multi-member adventure, you can pick and choose elements to suit your interests. We sincerely hope you enjoy! 

 

Step Into Victorian England 

The Victorian Era in England, defined roughly as the period during which Queen Victoria ruled (1837-1901), was both socially and technologically dynamic. It was the era of Darwin and Dickens, and inspired the creation of numerous famous fictional figures such as Sherlock Holmes. It is also the era during which our Blackbrim game series takes place!

The series currently includes two games: Blackbrim: 1876, and its sequel, Reager's Return. The following set of recommendations are custom picked to immerse you, the puzzler, into this world, while providing some fun facts along the way. You will find recommendations for:

Beverages

Food

Attire

Music

 

Beverages 

Gin and Tonic

Gin was one of the most popular spirits in the Victorian age. Our drink recommendations would therefore be remiss without including the most classic gin drink of all: the gin and tonic! The gin and tonic was created in the early 1800s by British soldiers stationed in India. Soldiers drank tonic water (with quinine) to help prevent malaria and added gin and lime to make the bitter flavors more pleasant. You can find a classic gin and tonic recipe here. Add a sprig of mint or rosemary, some citrus fruit slices (lime, lemon, or orange), or some berries to give your drink extra flair. 

Sloe Gin

Yes, another gin drink! We told you it was popular. But what is a “sloe”? Sloes are a variety of small blue berries that are common in England. Dating back to the 1700s, Brits would harvest the foul tasting fruit, add some sugar, and soak it in strong liquor, with the result of a surprisingly popular spirit. In Victorian England, sloe gin was traditionally drunk warm, during winter, but it has since been incorporated in a variety of cocktails - both cold and warm. Sloe gin can be purchased pre-made, or, if you have a couple months of spare time and access to sloes, you can make it yourself with this recipe!

Smoking Bishop

Charles Dickens was one of the most famous literary figures of the Victorian Era and also was a great fan of good food and drink. The smoking bishop, a spiced wine in the style of a Victorian punch, gets a shout out at the end of his timeless classic: A Christmas Carol. In the tale, Scrooge has finally come around and is offering to help his clerk Bob Cratchit’s struggling family. He offers to discuss this “over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop!” This drink is a bit more involved to make but is warm, sweet and satisfying if you do. A recipe can be found here.

Vintage Lemonade

Lemonade was a popular, refreshing beverage sold in the streets of Victorian London, and made in homes as well. Victorians drank lemonade with still water, but also experimented with carbonation in the 1800s. This site includes a more traditional take on making lemonade. If some additional pep is desired, a splash of gin can be added to create a “London Lemonade.” If you aren’t a gin fan but still like to imbibe, a splash of sherry, or the less authentic vodka can also be included.

 

Additional Beverage Recommendations

Alcohol-free recommendations:

  • Hot chocolate was frequently sipped for enjoyment in the Victorian Era. This site has 3 recipes dating back to the 1880s.
  • Tea of course! Victorian's drank a wide variety of teas, but English Breakfast and Earl Grey are two great choices. 

Alcoholic recommendations:

  • Port, sherry, madeira, beer and wine were all also enjoyed by Victorians. Feel free to add these to your festivities!

Food  

Scones and Clotted Cream

Scones and clotted cream are arguably one of the most quintessential British foods. They were also an important element incorporated in afternoon Victorian tea parties! You can find a popular scone recipe from the BBC here, and this site will give you a wonderful clotted cream recipe. Like us, you may be wondering what the difference is between clotted cream and whipped cream. While they both start with heavy whipping cream, the results are very different. Clotted cream is thicker, richer, and less sweet than whipped cream. The debate about which is better is fierce. You may just have to taste test both for yourself!

Victorian Tea Sandwiches

The tradition of the Victorian tea party was started by Queen Victoria’s lifelong friend, the Duchess of Bedford. Elite Victorian’s had two main meals each day: a large breakfast and an 8pm dinner (with a short lucheon in between). Even with the luncheon, the Duchess complained of a “sinkful” feeling around 4pm each day, and thus the Victorian tea party was born! This site provides a wonderful set of different tea sandwich recipes, including Cucumber Dill, Salmon, Egg, and Cranberry Chicken. Also included are tips and FAQs for creating and hosting your own Victorian tea party.

Steak Pie

Savory pies were a common feature of the streets in Victorian London. Their portable size and enclosed nature made them a perfect food for the working class of the city. Pies were filled with different meats or fruits, but were most commonly filled with a rather surprising ingredient: eels! The Thames was so chock full of eels that they became a working class staple. Don’t worry though, we’ve taken some liberties with our recommendation for something that will likely be a bit more tasty: steak pie! If you are paying close attention to your game materials, you’ll notice a mention of steak and kidney pie in one of your puzzles.

Treacle Tart

OK, you caught us. golden syrup, a main ingredient in treacle tarts, wasn’t invented until the 1880’s (a few years after the Blackbrim series takes place). Nonethless, treacle tarts were considered a classic dessert of the Victorian Era. Plus! We happen to be Harry Potter fans and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to include a dessert that is so prominently featured. :) Be forewarned, this tart is very sweet! It is often paired with dairy, such as clotted cream, whipped cream, yogurt, or ice cream. This site provides a traditional recipe, and bonus (!) an additional recipe if you want to make your golden syrup from scratch!

Victoria Sandwich

This may sound similar to the aforementioned “Victorian Tea Sandwiches”, and may look like a larger version of the scones, but we can assure you it is quite distinct from both! The Victoria Sandwich is actually a sweet sponge cake with with a layer of jam and buttercream slathered in the middle. YUM. The cake was named as such because it was one of Queen Victoria’s favorites. According to historians, Queen Victoria would frequently enjoy a slice with her afternoon cup of tea. A bit of fun history: baking powder was invented in the early 1800s, and is what allowed this classic British sponge cake to become so light, fluffy, and rich. A highly rated Victoria Sanwich recipe from the BBC can be found here.

 

Additional Food Recommendations:

If these tasty recipes don't satiate your hunger for Victorian cuisine, this site has 21 additional recommendations that you can continue to peruse and enjoy. 

Extras 

Attire

If you are really looking to go full Victorian, complete with period appropriate costumes we can make a few recommendations!

Women of the era often wore dresses or skirts, bright colors and patterns. If they could afford it, ruffles or lace were also included for additional flourish. There are many links online, but this site provides some good diy ideas. This site provides additional ideas and also includes web links if you are looking to purchase something.

For men, a suit was common. If you would like to get fancy, you could also include a vest and top hat. This site provides both ideas, as well as links to purchase.

Music

This roughly hour long playlist is inspired by Sherlock Holme’s 221B Baker Street address in London.

This mix is designed to be give a Victorian writer’s room vibe, with rain pattering on the window.

If you’re looking for a more epic, Victorian-inspired mix, this one could be for you.

If a creepy vibe is what you’re after, this playlist could be just for you. (Warning, it is quite creepy!) 

There are a lot of playlists out there! If none of these feel quite right for you, Youtube is an excellent resource for crafting your perfect gaming vibe. :)

Written by Puzzling Pursuits