What the heck is Wassail or Wassailing you might ask. It’s a version of hot mulled cider. The word “wassail” comes from an Anglo-Saxon phrase which means “good health”. Wassailing was traditionally done on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night, but some people drank Wassail on all the twelve days of Christmas! I guess they wanted to be really healthy. Here in my household we start right after Thanksgiving. It’s THAT good.
Enough of the history lesson, let’s get to it. It’s the perfect drink on a cold winter’s night or to serve at Holiday parties. And don’t scoff, it’s been cold here in Santa Barbara! You can drink it anytime of the day, but you may want to wait until after 5:00 if you are going to add bourbon or rum.
Here is the version I’ve been making for 25 years…
1 cup sugar
1 quart water
12 whole cloves
4 sticks cinnamon
4 whole allspice
2-4 Tablespoons chopped, crystalized ginger
3 cups orange juice (fresh squeezed is ideal but who has time for that?)
1 cup of lemon juice, fresh preferred (I use Meyer lemons)
2 quarts apple cider
Bourbon or dark rum, if desired (duh) I make it straight and let my guests add the amount of alcohol they like….no judgement here!
In a 5 quart pot simmer water and sugar for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Strain mixture. (I just fish the spices out with a slotted spoon). Add ginger, orange juice, lemon juice, and apple cider. Let stand at room temperature, covered for 24 hours.
Before serving, strain, heat, and stir. Yum!