From the archives: this article was originally published on December 12, 2022
Mulled wine, apple cider, hot chocolate, and eggnog are all heralded as holiday beverage favorites. But have you ever tried wassail? This centuries-old drink is a traditional part of caroling and the holiday season in Britain. Made with fruit juices and lots of spices, this hot punch is easy to make, tasty to drink, and will fill your house with wonderful holiday scents!
Here is a simple base recipe for a wassail:
4 cups water
2 ¼ cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
8 allspice berries
4 cups orange juice
8 cups apple juice
Add the water and sugar to a very large pot (this recipe serves 16, so there is a large amount of liquid!) and bring it to a boil for five minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Place the lid on the pot and allow to steep for one hour. Optionally, you can remove the spices from the pot after one hour.
Add the orange and apple juice and bring to a rapid boil.
Remove from the heat and serve this wassail warm.
Get creative and experiment with your own favorite flavors!
Add a bit of cranberry, apricot, grapefruit, lemon, or even pineapple juice to change the flavor profile from sweet to tart to tropical.
You could swap in apple cider rather than apple juice for a spicier wassail.
Swap out some of the spices or include some of your favorites, like black peppercorns, a knob of ginger, star anise, or cardamom pods.
Add some tea bags to your steeping time for a well-rounded flavor profile, like orange pekoe or ginger tea.
For an adult version, you can include rum, brandy, sherry, or red wine. Be sure to add it along with the fruit juice so the alcohol doesn’t completely cook out.
To serve, add a cinnamon stick or star of anise to the glass for a decorative touch. You can also add slices of fresh or dried fruit, like apple, orange, or lemon.
Here’s how you can make your own dried fruit with just an oven:
Slice your selected fruit thinly and place on a baking sheet in an even layer. Place a sheet of parchment paper over top.
Bake your fruit at 200 degrees F for several hours, depending on the water content of your chosen fruit. Check on it throughout the baking process until the fruit is your preferred texture.
Use it immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature.