Wassail: A beverage of hot mulled cider, drunk traditionally as an integral part of wassailing.
Wassailing: A medieval Christmastide English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year.
We all know wassailing from the carol, Here We Come A-Wassailing which tells of neighbors’ and their children caroling and hoping to receive a sixpence and drink while being warmed in front of the homeowner’s fireplace. Delightful!
My mom always made wassail at the holidays (I believe she called it hot spiced cider), and we felt it was a treat. Her version had no alcohol and was so simple those neighbors’ could have stayed home and made it themselves.
Mom’s Hot Spiced Cider
1 gallon apple cider (or apple juice)
1 bag (4.5 -5.5 oz) of Red Hots or Cinnamon Imperials (hard cinnamon candy bits…not soft cinnamon candies such as Hot Tamales)
Place both ingredients in a pan or percolator to heat. Serve after it is heated and the red hots are dissolved.
You will see lots of variants of this recipe, such as adding peach or apricot Jello mix or a juice (pineapple, orange, lemon, etc.), spices such as cloves and cinnamon, but I think the best recipe is above. That may be because that is what I grew up drinking, but too me it also produces the most enjoyable flavor.
We had a particular percolator that my mom always used to make the hot spiced cider if serving at a party. I still have it. When my sister and I had our title company, we used our mom’s percolator to serve wassail to our customers during December.
If just enjoying a few mugs of hot spiced cider, my mom would make it in a saucepan on the stove. Obviously, this recipe isn’t one where exactness matters, so she would fill the pan with enough apple cider for those she was preparing for and then throw in some Red Hots.
What is your favorite Wassail or Hot Spiced Cider recipe?
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