wassail


a Christmas drink

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

“WASSAIL is enjoying a small revival in New York bars these days, particularly those with nostalgic tendencies, whipped up in big pots or slow cookers.”

The New York Times

Did you
know?

wassail
noun

Merriam-Webster offers three definitions. OWAD today focusses on the first, which is the most common:

- a hot drink that is made with wine, beer, or cider, spices, sugar, and usually baked apples,... and is traditionally served in a large bowl, especially at Christmas time

- an early English toast to someone’s health

- wild, riotous drinking


ORIGIN

13th century. Old English wæs hæl, literally ‘be you healthy’, refers both to the salute Waes Hail and to the drink of wassail, a hot mulled cider. It was traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, an ancient southern English drinking ritual.

In the cider-producing counties in the South-West of England (primarily Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, and Herefordshire) or South-East England (Kent, Sussex, Essex, and Suffolk) wassailing refers to a traditional ceremony. A ceremony involving singing and drinking to the health of cider-apple trees, intended to ensure a good harvest the following year.


HOW ABOUT A WASSAIL?

Why not enjoy a wassail this Christmas, as I will with my family? You might have to hunt around a bit for the ingredients, but it’s worth it.

INGREDIENTS

- 8 small dessert apples
- 3 litres medium cider
- 350 ml calvados
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Spices:
- 1 cinnamon (Zimt) stick, broken in three
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (gemahlene Gewürznelken)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (Muskat)
- 6 juniper berries, crushed (Wacholder)
- 1 small knob of peeled, fresh ginger (Ingwer)

DIRECTIONS

Run a sharp knife around the middle of each apple to split the skin, then place them in an oven-proof dish.

Pour a little cider around the base of the apples and put them in an oven, pre-heated to 180 degrees C.

Cook for about 40 minutes, or until they are just starting to burst around the slits. Meanwhile, make a little muslin (Musselin) bag and put all the spices into it, tying it up with a piece of kitchen string.

Put the cider, calvados, sugar, cinnamon sticks, lemon juice, into your most beautiful saucepan. Add the spices and bring the liquid to a simmer - don’t boil it, as the alcohol will evaporate.

Serve in heat-proof glasses with chunks of baked apples on top. Enjoy!


SMUGGLE OWAD into a conversation today, say something like:

“Let’s make a WASSAIL this Christmas, I got the recipe from OWAD.”


HOLIDAY BREAK

Wassail was the last OWAD of 2021, service resumes on Wednesday 5th of January.

Happy holidays with your family and friends, and have a great start into the New Year.


HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations at:

https://donorbox.org/please-become-a-friend-of-owad-3

Paul Smith

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