15 How to Make Wassail

Everyone knows "Here we go a-waissaling." But how many know how to make actual wassail? Fortunately, there's a nice recipe for Wassail Cup, recorded by Nicholas Culpeper in his Herball (1620):


2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
3 blades of mace
4 cloves
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 ginger root
4 apples
4 oz. of sugar
1/2 pint of brown ale
1/2 pint of cider

Core the apples and sprinkle with sugar and water. Bake at 375F/190C for 30 minutes, or until tender. Mix ale, cider and spices together. Heat but do not boil. Leave for 30 minutes. Strain and pour over roasted apples. Serve in a punch bowl. Of course if you're planning on saluting more than a few wassailers--and they do tend to travel in packs-- you'll want to increase the recipe accordingly.

[My copy of Culpeper's didn't seem to contain any pleasant remedies, and certainly no receipts for wassail cup. This version is taken from The Country Diary Christmas Book by Sarah Hollis, Henry Holt, 1993--but she credits Culpeper with the original. She goes on to say that wassail cup used to be called "Lamb's Wool" in the Middle Ages, due to the floating apples it contained. "Wassail" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning "be whole" which is much the same as "to your health" today.]