So, last night I hosted an Amazing Race/Birthday party (here's a one-day-early birthday shout out to Allison!) during which it became apparent that too few people in this world (or at least in my circle of friends) have had the pleasure of sipping from a warm mug of fragrant wassail. It went kind of like this:
Suz: Hey everyone, I made wassail! Who'd like some?
Murmurs from those gathered: Huh? You made what? What's wassail?
Suz: You know...(singing) "Here we go a-wassailing among the leaves so green..."
Those gathered: [blank stares]
Suz: Um, it's a festive holiday beverage.
Those gathered: Oh. Okay.
So, because we are entering prime wassail season, I thought I'd introduce a (slightly) wider audience to the festive yummy-ness that is wassail.
wassail [wos-uhl] noun: 1. a saluation wishing health to a person, used in England in early times when presenting a drink to a person or when drinking to the health of a person; 2. a beverage consisting of spiced cider, liquor, beer, or juices for drinking on festive occasions, esp. around Christmas; verb: 3. (used without object) to revel with drinking; 4. (used with object) to drink to the health or success of; toast.
Use it in a sentence: "Wassail(1)! I raise this mug of wassail(2) while wassailing(3) in the company of good friends friends to wassail(4) Allison on the momentous occasion of her 27th birthday."
Suz's Wassail Recipe (which is dedicated to Rachel, who first introduced me to wassail)
2 1/4 C white sugar
4 C water
4 C orange juice
1 1/2 C lemon juice
8 C apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole allspice berries
1 Tb whole cloves
In a large saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add spices. Cover and let stand in warm place for 1 hour (or more). Strain liquid into a large pot or crockpot/slow cooker. Add juices and cider and quickly bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve. [Recipe may be "spiked" as desired. Brandy works well. I haven't tried it yet, but Amaretto or Triple Sec would probably be tasty, too! Add liquor after removing concoction from heat.]