English wassail is by far one of my favorite holiday drinks. It’s kinda crazy because if you consider exactly how many different types of beverages there are out there, you’ll find there are, well, a lot! Each holiday season I primarily think of two drinks wassail and eggnog. From Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, and from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve/Day, I honestly prefer to have a cup of wassail to eggnog. (But hey, that’s just me!) Today I wanted to tell you exactly how to make this delicious drink (wassail in case I confused you in the last few sentences). I drink this at least once a year. I guess you can say that this English wassail recipe falls in the, you know, comfort food area… Is it more correct to say that it is a comfort drink? Does that even exist?
Before I do that, I want to tell you a little bit about English wassail, other than the fact that I have it multiple times a year. The old (Christmas?) carol Here We Come A-wassailing comes to mind and that has to be one of the eldest things that I think of other than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Anyway, I hum/sing these lyrics whenever I drink wassail.
Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year
And God send you a Happy New Year.
I’m not sure why, but that’s what comes to mind whenever I think of this wonderful and spiced drink! Wait! Give me a second… and I’m back after a quick Google search! I read that the song is actually a traditional Christmas Carol New Year’s song in English Christmas carol at that. Interesting. But it makes sense.
Regardless of what comes to my mind when I think of English wassail (history, songs, snow, sledding, family, etc.), I want you to think of that a nice hot cup of spiced cider (or wassail) warm enough to bring happiness back to your soul, perfect for reminiscing, or drinking with those “chestnuts roasting on an open fire!”
Pat yourself on the back! You made it through that introduction! Now time for you to tune in and learn exactly how to make this delicious drink. As a preface, wassail is by far one of the easiest drinks to prepare and, in my opinion, one the most enjoyable – in my own humble opinion of course 😉
To begin let’s go to our pantry, cupboard, or refrigerator and get all these ingredients out so we can make this incredible drink!!! Before I continue, you should be aware that I think of the flavors of this drink are completely fine without sweetener but if you would like some I recommend adding one cup of sugar or about 1 cup of honey but any sweetener will do. Now, go back to those places I previously mentioned and grab these ingredients and in the following quantities. Please pull out: 2 quarts (2 liters) of sweet apple juice or apple juice (we will end up adding spices to this anyway), 2 cups (500 milliliters) of pineapple juice, 1 1/2 (333 milliliters) cups of orange juice, 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) of lemon juice, 12 whole cloves, 12 whole allspice berries, 4 whole cinnamon sticks. (I rounded down the US Imperial volume measurements. With either measurement system the wassail will taste the same!)
Making this is really really really really easy. (I hope I emphasized that for you it won’t take that long, though it will take a few hours… so I guess time is a relative factor here.) Soon (ish) you’ll be sipping on your own cup of hot English Wassail! Let’s begin!
If you choose to juice these fruits instead of buying them that’s completely okay. I’ve juiced the fruits several times and the fruits provide a much stronger flavor. If you have a juicer, I recommend that you buy these fruits and juice them.
Combine all these juices into a pot. Place the cinnamon sticks into the pot. If you have a tea ball, put the cloves and allspice into the tea ball before tossing that into the pot as well.
Place the pot on the stove and crank up the temperature to a medium-high heat. And let the juices heat up until it comes to a boil. Once it hits a boil, turn it down to a low heat for five hours. Then remove it from the heat and let it slowly cool. If you boil the liquid for too long, the juices will change the flavor. Although we are essentially making tea (we are pulling the flavors out of the spices into the liquid), you should avoid boiling, instead try to get a nice steady simmer. Scientifically, the juices have a high heat capacity (meaning that the liquid will absorb a lot of heat and then it will take a while for the heat to expel itself into an ambient temperature environment) which will allow us to avoid boiling. The high capacity will allow us to effectively pull the flavors out of the spices without manipulating the flavors of the juices themselves by boiling. Oh, if you are going to include a sweetener then you should pour in the sugar or honey now. Stir until the sweetener has completely dissolved. By the way, this makes 3 quarts of wassail.
You now have one of the easiest wassail recipes out there! I am planning on posting apple cider (also known as sweet cider, soft cider, or simply cider) and a more traditional wassail recipe. So, as they say in the news industry “stay tuned for more after the break” 🙂
If you have a question or a comment, just look down below and leave a comment and I’ll get right back. Have a Happy New Year!!!