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Warm Up with a Spicy Mug of Wassail & Dive into its History

Dec 07, 2017 04:33PM ● By Linda Ditch

Photo from Linda Ditch

For the upcoming Wassail Weekend, mix up a batch of warm, spicy wassail. You’ll be glad to have it ready after spending time in the cold. Best of all, it’s easy to make!

The word “wassail” appeared as early as the eighth century in the epic story of Beowulf. As an Old-English toast, it was “was-hail,” meaning “be in good health.” To go wassailing was to go from door to door singing carols in the hope of receiving a warm beverage and other treats. The drink itself was a warm spiced ale or wine garnished with roasted apples.

This wassail recipe is very simple. Just wrap the whole spices into a cheesecloth pouch, and then drop it into a pot full of apple cider and cranberry juice. You may need to add a little brown sugar depending on the sweetness of the juices.

For a party, warm the wassail in a slow cooker, and float a few apple rings and cinnamon sticks on top.

For adults, a bit of brandy dresses up this holiday drink.

Not only is this a festive beverage, but it also helps you cope with the viruses and colds that abound this time of year. Leftover wassail can be stored in the refrigerator. Then, when the craving strikes, just fill a mug and warm it in the microwave.

Enjoy a mug of wassail, and cheers to you this Christmas and throughout the holiday season!



Photo from Linda Ditch

2 quarts apple cider (or apple juice)
1 1/2 quarts cranberry juice
8–10 whole allspice
10 whole cinnamon sticks
20–25 whole cloves
1/2 to 1 cup brandy (optional) 


1. Cut a piece of cheesecloth and place the whole spices in the center. Pull up the edges to make a pouch and tie with butcher’s twine.

2. Pour the cider and juice into a large pot or slow cooker. Add the spice pouch. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. (Or heat in a slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours.)

3. Before serving, taste for sweetness and add 1/2 cup brown sugar if necessary. For a beverage for adults, add brandy if desired.

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