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Wassail the beverage is a hot, mulled punch often associated with Yuletide. Historically, the drink was a mulled cider made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and topped with slices of toast.

Modern recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice, or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added. Apples or oranges are often added to the mix. While the beverage typically served as "wassail" at modern holiday feasts with a medieval theme most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail drinks were completely different, more likely to be mulled beer or mead. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated, and topped with slices of toast as sops.

Hence the first stanza of the traditional carol the Gloucestershire Wassail dating back to the Middle Ages:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.

At Carhampton, near Minehead, the Apple Orchard Wassailing is held on the Old Twelfth Night (17 January) as a ritual to ask God for a good apple harvest. The villagers form a circle around the largest apple tree, hang pieces of toast soaked in cider in the branches for the robins, who represent the 'good spirits' of the tree. A shotgun is fired overhead to scare away evil spirits and the group sings, the following being the last verse:

Old Apple tree, old apple tree;
We've come to wassail thee;
To bear and to bow apples enow;
Hats full, caps full, three bushel bags full;
Barn floors full and a little heap under the stairs.
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English Wassail Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 pint water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 lemons thinly sliced
1 bottle medium dry red wine

Boil together water, honey, cloves and cinnamon for five minutes. Add two lemons thinly sliced and allow to stand for 7 or 8 minutes. Add a bottle of medium dry red wine and heat slowly until just below boiling point. pour into a jug and serve hot.
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Culture
This drink would be roughly equivalent to beer or wine in many contemporary western cultures. People drank it at social gatherings. "Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best/... please God send our master a good cask of ale..." sang throughout the towns of the Germanic nations, sending good luck to even one's own master in the new year.

The British rock band Blur released a cover of the song, with each member taking a verse. The release was limited to 500 7 inch pressings, these were given out at a concert in 1992.

Wassail was featured on the BBC Two special Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas which aired on Sunday 20th December 2009. Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis sampled the drink and the wassailing party in south west England as part of their challenge to find Britain's best Christmas drinks.

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How-To Articles:
How to host a wine tasting party (with video)
How to make mulled wine
How to make kool aid wine
How to seat dinner guests
How to make jello shots
How to plan a party
Be a responsible host
Host a dinner party
Party Planning

External Links
Alton Brown Wassail Recipe
Wassail Recipe
Old English Wassail Recipe




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Resources: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses some material from Wikipedia/article wassail /and other related pages. Top Photo: wassail
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Christmas Wassail Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 27 whole cloves
  • 8 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 quart pineapple juice
  • 1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate
We Celebrate Drink Holidays!
Mix all ingredients in a large crockpot & simmer.

Serve Hot!