By Trish Gavin
In the 13th century it was ordinary to see a group of people (generally in Southern England) walking along, singing and drinking to apple trees, hoisting up either a young woman or young boy to “toast”; literally placing a piece of punch soaked bread in the tree’s limbs. This ritual is called Wassailing. The words “Waes Hail” literally mean “be you healthy”, and the tradition was done on Twelfth Night to ensure a productive apple growing season for the next year, chasing away evil spirits and the “toasting” was done to show the previous year’s bounty.
The drink became named after the greeting, giving us Wassail, a warm apple punch great for taking with you on cold nights, whether camping or singing to trees. Or both.
There are many, many ways to make a Wassail depending on people’s personal taste, eggs can be added, bread can be floated on top, and you can even use ale in lieu of cider.
This is my personal recipe and I find leaving the toast and eggs behind let it be a bit more transportable.
- 1 gallon of unfiltered apple cider
- 12 oz Oloroso Sherry
- 8 oz Yahara Bay Apple Brandy
- ¾ Cup of brown sugar
- 3 sticks Ceylon Cinnamon
- 15 whole allspice berries
- 13 whole cloves
- 3” fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- the peels of one fresh orange, one fresh lemon
- 1 tbsp grated nutmeg
- Using cheesecloth, make a 10”x10” square, wrap the cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger in the cloth and tie the top so it resembles a teabag.
- Combine Cider, brown sugar, citrus peels, nutmeg and sachet in a pot, heat to a simmer and simmer for ten minutes. Remove pot from heat to add the alcohol, then put back on the burner on low and allow marrying for 15 minutes, stirring. When ready, remove sachet and citrus peels and pour. Cheers!
Trish Gavin is a bartender at Brasserie Zentral in Minneapolis, MN. Stop in for a Frueling Negroni , Garden Gimlet or Bechevovka on the rocks. She’ll take care of you…and tell her 50 Campfires sent you!
*cover photo by Jeremy Tarling