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Recipe for Kykeon
(Barley water)

from Hesychius

AFAIK, this recipe comes from Grant and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

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Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.

Yes, this book has a new cover, but I like this one better. Blah, I am so horrible.

Kykeon (from the Greek “to mix, stir”) was a beverage of water and barley (sometimes flavored with mint or thyme) popular among the working, 'lower' class of ancient Greece. In the time of the Roman Empire, Kykeon was still a popular drink made from water, wine, honey and barley with various herbs added to individual taste. This common drink, however, was regarded in much the same way a person in the modern day would consider soft drinks.

Homer describes an eigth-century BC version of barley water in The Iliad, listing barley meal, wine and cheese as the main ingriedients. In The Classical Cookbook Sally Grainger interprets this as a type of soup or porridge. Hesychius, writing probably in the fifth-century AD, records its evolution into a drink. THis recipe leans on the extensive researches in the early 1930s of Ernst Darmstaedter into barley and its culinary uses in ancient times to produce a Roman equivalent of barley water.

*A good web link to read on Kykeon :

Original recipe:

Translation:“[Barley] Groats belong to the wheat family.* They have juice that is quite nour-ishing and tenacious if, when they have been cooked in water alone, they are taken with honeyed wine,* or with sweet or even astringent wine (the critical time for use is specific for each), and if salt and oil have been stirred in.” ~ Aelius Galenus (Galen), De alimentorum facultatibus (On the Properties of Foodstuffs), early 2nd century CE


  • 60g/2 oz pearl barley
  • 125 ml/¼ pin sweet white wine
  • 2 tbsp honey


  • Simmer the barley in 2 pints of water in a covered pan for an 1½ hours.
  • Strain off the juice into a jug or bottle and discard the barley.
  • Mix the juice with the wine and honey and add more water to make 2 pints of drink.
  • Chill before serving.
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