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.
- 1 gallon (4.5 L) apple cider
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) whole cloves
- 1 tbsp. (15 ml) whole allspice
- 4 cinnamon sticks 2" long
- 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) mace
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) powdered ginger
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (200 ml)
- 1 pint gin or vodka (0.56 L) - 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.
- 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.