|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 26g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 21g|
|Vitamin C 87mg||433%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
The word wassail comes from the salute waes hail, which was a common Medieval English greeting, and even farther back from a pre-Norman conquest Anglo-Saxon toast meaning "be in good health." From those beginnings, the term wassail was applied to a traditional, hearty drink of hot mulled fruit cider flavored with spices. The warm beverage was an essential part of the ritual of wassailing, a popular drinking and singing tradition in southern medieval England. The ceremony was meant to secure a good apple harvest in the following year by singing to the orchard trees. Later, wassailing also became known as the tradition of going door-to-door greeting neighbors with song during the winter holidays.
The earliest recorded recipes of wassail included warmed mead, an ale brewed with honey, which was then brewed with roasted crab apples. Later, the beverage became a mulled cider made with sugar and various spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Today, wassail recipes are abundant, with home cooks putting their personal twists on the traditional historical drink. Modern recipes can begin with wine, fruit juice, or mulled ale with brandy or sherry added. Fresh apples or oranges are often added to the brew.
Our wassail recipe, which appears in the Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook by Kitty and Lucian Maynard, calls for easy-to-find ingredients like apple cider and cranberry juice and gets its kick from optional rum and aromatic bitters. This drink is perfect for a party, can be served like a punch, and fills the house with wonderful, spicy aromas. Fresh non-alcoholic apple cider from a local apple orchard or cider mill is best, but you can substitute with store-bought ciders available year-round as well. This rum version is sure to warm you through any cold weather but is especially popular during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.
2 medium oranges
20 whole cloves
4 quarts apple cider
2 quarts cranberry juice
1 tablespoon aromatic bitters
4 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon white allspice
2 cups rum, optional
Star anise pods, for garnish
Orange slices, for garnish
Gather the ingredients.
Stud the oranges with the cloves. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over low to medium-low heat, combine the apple cider, cranberry juice, bitters, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and optional rum. Heat gently on the stove for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place a cinnamon stick, a couple of star anises, an orange slice, or a combination of all of them in each mug you're serving. Pour a cup of wassail in each mug and serve.
What Is a Pomander?
Oranges studded with cloves are also known as pomanders—from the French pomme d'ambre or "apple of amber". Originally used as a device to keep bad smells at bay or thought of as a protection-from-infection tool, pomanders are now used in cooking and home decor.
Seen everywhere during the winter holidays, pomanders are used in a variety of holiday and winter cocktails. Add them to mulled wine, or make aromatic non-alcoholic beverages with pomanders, sliced apples, water, cinnamon, and maple syrup.
Keep Your Wassail Hot Throughout the Party
If you're hosting a large gathering, use your slow cooker to keep the beverage warm. Cook the wassail on the stove as directed by the recipe and carefully transfer it to a slow cooker set on warm. You can arrange the mugs and garnishes close to the slow cooker so each guest can serve themselves and put their favorites garnishes in their mugs.
Alternatively, set all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Change the setting to warm after the 2 hours. Your wassail is now ready to be served.