Wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon toast "waes hael" or be whole". The first carols were Yuletide drinking songs and singers caroled their neighbourhoods carrying their wassail bowls with them. That was just to get you into the spirit, now down to business. I have no idea how many servings you'll get. When I make this I don't use any alcohol and I serve small amounts to younger children (diluted with apple juice) while the men bring big coffee mugs (with their own spirit base).
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice
- 4 cinnamon sticks, 2-inch long
- 1⁄2 teaspoon mace
- 1⁄4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1⁄4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 pint gin (optional) or 1 pint vodka, this is (optional)
- 2 lemons, sliced thin, seeds removed
- 3 oranges, sliced thin, seeds removed
- Pour cider into large kettle, add spices and salt. Bring to a hard boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes
- Remove from stove, add sugar to taste, if needed.
- Cool. Strain wassail. Keep in a cool place till ready to use, but it is not necessary to refrigerate.
- To prepare a wassail bowl: Use a heavy china bowl, a crock pot or a punch bowl.
- Heat it over a large kettle of boiling water. Add lemon and orange slices.
- When warm, add gin or vodka and let it heat, but do not boil or spirits will evaporate. Remove from heat.
- Pour in the boiling wassail. If possible keep the bowl hot over a candle or alcohol burner. Ladle into punch cups and serve.