“Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.”
So begins the classic yuletide carol praising wassail, the traditional holiday drink.
Wassail is a spicy, sweet, hot mulled cider that used to be made with beer or mead, apples and seasonings. Steeped in ancient traditions, the drink was an important part of medieval winter celebrations.
The word “wassail” originated as a toast in old English, and was intended to bestow good health and good cheer upon friends and acquaintances.
During the cold winter months, beggars and orphans would sing in the snowy English streets in the hopes of receiving a cup of warm wassail or a bite to eat. Drinking this in an apple orchard is also said to have been a ritual intended to encourage good apple harvests in the years to come.
Over time, wassailing became a fun holiday pastime for families and groups, with singers going door to door to spread good cheer among their neighbors. Through the years, this beverage has served as a symbol for good spirits, good health and goodwill to others.
A warm fruity holiday punch
Our updated version of wassail contains apple juice like its historic counterpart, but we have also added tangy orange and lemon juices as well as sweet-tart cranberry juice for an added flavor boost. We combine this with the traditional seasonal flavors of vanilla, cloves and cinnamon.
If desired, you can add bourbon for an adult version of this winter warmer. And don’t forget to garnish the top of your wassail bowl with pretty orange slices!
This is a soul-warming drink that is sure to bring smiles of good cheer to all who partake. Raise your glass and cheer: Wassail!
Holiday orange wassail
Serves 6 quarts
- One 64-ounce orange juice
- One 6-ounce apple cider
- One 32-ounce cranberry juice cocktail
- One 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground cloves
- 2 oranges, sliced
- Combine orange juice, apple cider, cranberry juice cocktail and lemonade in a large stockpot.
- Mix in vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves and orange slices.
- Cook uncovered over medium heat until heated.
- Serve warm in mugs.
Note: To make an adult version with alcohol, add 3 cups bourbon, mixing it into the juices during the first step of directions.
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