This time of year always brings thoughts of sitting around a cozy warm fire with a hot drink in hand. I love hot chocolate but, often find too much of a good thing is prone to adding on the extra pounds. Instead I like to make mulled cider or wassail. It’s a tasty alternative and just like hot chocolate you can add some alcohol to the mix to give it some extra kick. There is a history to mulled cider and mulled wine that ties in with this time of year as well. My recipe adds strawberry and orange slices for extra flavour and a lovely visual as you dip in the ladle and pour yourself a cup.
Wassail is a hot, spiced punch often associated with Yuletide. Historically, the drink was mulled ale made with sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and topped with slices of toast. The term itself is a contraction of the Middle English phrase wæs hæil, meaning “be healthy”.
Prep Time: 1o minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
2L Apple cider or apple juice
(red wine may also be used in place of cider)
2 apples or oranges lightly studded with cloves
4-6 cinnamon sticks
5-6 allspice berries (these may be omitted)
zest of 1 orange
dark rum (optional)
slices of strawberry and orange for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and simmer gently for 30 minutes – do not boil. Strain out spices and apple and transfer to a heatproof bowl or back into large pot. To serve ladle into glass mugs. Add 1/2 ounce of dark rum (optional) and garnish with strawberry and orange slices.
FOOTNOTE: After enough alcohol laced wassail one may feel the urge to head out and serenade the neighbours with several hearty choruses of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Be warned…they will likely not be as enthusiastic as you, especially at 2am.