Wassail has a warming charm to it that instantly makes you think of Christmas markets and warm log fires!
A hot mulled fruit cider, the origins date back to “wassailing” – an English tradition of going door to door with neighbours, singing and offering a drink from a wassail bowl in exchange for gifts. It’s believed the original recipe was made from mead, however, the modern version we will share with you today comes from apple cider.
The colour and result you get can vary from a clear brown, almost like tea to a hearty warm orange or red – particularly if you add cranberry & orange. It works great as a batch drink for ideal for parties or when you need to cater for many.
This recipe is also easy adapt to be a non-alcoholic Christmas Drink by simply omitting the boozy components – we’ll explain how below.
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Tools you will need for making a Wassail
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mugs or cups to serve
- Urn for keeping warm
- 4L/16 cups of apple cider (or non-alcoholic substitute)
- 1L cranberry juice
- 1L orange juice
- 4 sticks of cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 0.5 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2cm finely grated ginger
- 2 sliced oranges
- 0.5L/2 cups dark rum
- Garnish - optional cinnamon sticks
- Warm all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and heat over a medium/low heat for 30 minutes
- Serve warm or transfer to a large drinks urn for serving
For a non-alcoholic wassail, you can replace the apple cider with apple juice and orange juice, while omiting the dark rum completely.
This is an easy to adapt Christmas Mocktail with only fruity warmth for all our non-drinkers. If you are replacing with straightforward apple juice rather than cider, go a little heavier on the spices to bring out that flavour.
Variation in colour and flavour between wassail recipes
We have seen a huge number of variations in this recipe when we were trying to concoct our favourite brew to share with you. It really is one you can mix up with different tastes. It’s the fruity base you choose which leads mostly to the end colour seems to be the big differentiator.
You can easily substitute the cranberry juice (which we love most for the deep colour!) with a combination of orange juice, lemon juice or pineapple juice. If your juices are unsweetened, you may want to add an extra cup of sugar though we’ve found this to be overly sweet.
We have also seen some suggest that tea should infact, be the base ingredient.
Wassail with a different alcoholic base
We have not tried it yet with mead but this could be a variations to experiment with instead. Be mindful, mead has a much stronger ABV so you will want to mix it with another fruity base.
We also LOVE using spiced rum whenever we can, this would be a great alternative here to dark rum.
Serving your wassail
Wassail is best served warm so if you’re catering for a larger group, you may want to keep the beverage warmed over in a purpose-made urn for hot beverages. We love the festive feel of this one by Giles & Posner!
Wassail can also be cooked and served straight from your slow cooker if you would prefer. A make ahead batch should cook for 3 to 4 hours.
More Christmas drinks ideas
As well as checking out our complete guide to Christmas cocktails, you may also be interested in our Christmas gift guides for drink-lovers. We cover everything from stylish glassware for your drinks cabinet through to our favourite gifts for lovers of mulled wine!
If you’re still seeking out that perfect gift idea or stocking stuffer, pop on over for some inspiration here >>
Mama Loves A Drink advocates quality over quantity. Always drink responsibly!