It should come as no surprise to you that most of my favorite parts of Christmas involve food in some shape or form. Most, if not all, of my motivation for holiday socializing can be traced to my rumbling tummy.
As far as Wassail goes, my quest is relatively easy—a quick jaunt over to my paternal grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve will usually do the trick. This hot, spiced, cider-esque drink has been a part of my family’s Christmas traditions since before I can remember. All I know is that the second I get in the door to their house—before shaking the presents for any familiar rattlings or greeting relatives—I make a beeline to the kitchen stove to check on the wassail situation. The second it’s ready, I’ll spend the whole night filling and refilling my glass of that heavenly brew.
If you were to ask me the source or origins of the recipe, I’d have to admit that I have no clue. When I Wikipedia-ed the subject, I saw that it may have some roots in the mead and ale drunken by ye olde Englishe ancestors. Then again, this particular recipe could’ve been siphoned out of some magazine from the 1950s. I’ll never know.
I do know that I love using the recipe card that I have, which was written out by my sister when she was about six. In the ingredients, she made sure to specify that “common sense” was essential.
Very true, I might add.
To the right of that picture, she also had crossed out a specification on why you must strain the cinnamon and cloves—because they’re too large to swallow.
I’m not gonna lie. My sister was a brilliant child. Still is.
So, because it’s truly tragic for this drink to only be enjoyed one evening, once a year, I’m sharing it with you now. I usually make a huge pot of Wassail in early December and keep replenishing the supply all the way through New Years. It’s kinda the best thing ever.
A La Kocinera Original Family Recipe
1 gallon apple cider
1 quart orange juice
1 quart pineapple juice
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
24 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
Combine all ingredients in a very large pot, gently stirring to combine. Heat to a boil and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
As my sister says: Do not eat the cloves or cinnamon sticks…too large to swallow.