Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green;
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.
Wassail is typically a hot mulled cider punch which is served at the holidays; the traditional wassail was most likely a mulled beer or mead (honey wine), also served hot. Of course, I will stand established practice on its head with this one because I am serving this wassail cold. With champagne.
Wassailing was a practice of drinking and singing and toasting to the apple trees to ensure a good harvest the following year. In many places, such festivals were held on Twelfth Night, when a piece of toasted bread, which was soaked in the wassail, was hung in the apple trees to scare away evil spirits and encourage the apple trees to prosper for the next harvest.
In more modern times, wassail was consumed and songs were sung at social gatherings to “toast,” or send good luck to the hosts. It is this practice that made me think of using champagne in the recipe, since toasting with champagne is one of my very favorite things. *wink*
In addition to the cider, there is pineapple and orange juice, as well as a bit of honey to replicate the mead flavor. All of the juices are added to a large pan with cinnamon stick, whole allspice, cloves and orange peel, and brought to a boil. After that mixture cools, brandy is added and the mixture which is then chilled and held ready to combine with the champagne.
Wassail is the quintessential holiday party drink, and this version is no different. The recipe makes about three quarts of the base beverage, which is then added to champagne, so it will serve a crowd. If you’re not a fan of champagne, this base also works really well with a red or white still wine (not sparkling). I have served it with champagne, red and white wine, and any way I’ve had it, it is just delicious.
Bring an extra sparkle to your holiday parties by preparing this wassail.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too;
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year
And God send you a Happy New Year.
- ½ gallon apple cider
- 3 cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup orange juice (plus the peel of one orange)
- ⅓ cup clove honey
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 1 tbsp allspice berries
- 3 cups brandy
- champagne (or still red or white wine)
- In a large sauce pan, combine apple cider, pineapple juice, orange juice, the peel of one orange, honey, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and allspice berries (I put the cloves and allspice berries in a tea ball).
- Let simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Allow to cool.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries and orange peel.
- Add the brandy.
- Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate.
- When serving, pour 3 ounces of the wassail mixture into a glass and add 2 ounces of the champagne or wine of your choice.