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Wassail Holiday Open House Punch

One of my favorite ways to gather with friends and family during the holiday’s is by hosting a Holiday Open House and what better way to greet guests than with a bowl full of Holiday Wassail punch.

WASSAIL defined

NOUN

Spiced ale or mulled wine drunk during celebrations for Twelfth Night and Christmas Eve: 

     1.1 Lively and noisy festivities involving the drinking of plentiful amounts of alcohol; revelry:

VERB

[NO OBJECT]archaic

Drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way:

     1.1historical :: drink to (fruit trees, typically apple trees) in a custom intended to ensure a fruitful crop: 

Go from house to house at Christmas singing carols:

{as defined by OxfordDictionary.com}

As with many traditions the folklore surrounding it varies and evolves over time… especially when there is alcohol involved.

As I attempted to dig deeper into the drink and the activity around this holiday punch, my favorite of the wassail traditions rose to the top. Tradition has it that the spiced cider was offered as an ancient honor to the trees in the hopes of a plentiful harvest the following year.

“In wintertime, wassailers would prepare the traditional wassail – soaking pieces of bread, cake or toast in it – and travel from apple orchard to apple orchard in effort to ensure a good harvest for the coming year. Wassail-soaked pieces of bread or toast were then buried at the trees’ roots or hung in the trees’ branches to appease the tree spirits and feed them well until the next harvest.”

Other stories talk of revelers walking from pub to pub singing, or some holding bowls of wassail in the streets and selling cups to those who passed by for pennies. All I am sure have some truth to them and simply make the tradition wassail all the more intriguing to me.

Holiday Wassail Punch Recipe _ Krayl Funch _ AnAppealingPlan _Hampton Forge Copper Flatware - 1

Along with the many different stories as to the origin, it seems no two recipes for Wassail are quite alike. All generally contain apples and spices in some combination, eggs, egg-free, cream, cream-free, with out with ale, sherry, Bourbon, Whiskey and the list goes on. A few recipes require the use of slow cookers and a few traditionalist only serve Wassail warm.

I recently hosted a holiday open house and served my Wassail chilled with frozen cranberries, spices and orange slices as floating garnish. It looked super festive on the bar and was a huge hit with guests of all ages. {I may have consumed more than others, but thats the fun of being the host right!?}

My suggestion… Fill a large punch bowl with a non-alcoholic batch to offer to all your guests as they enter then let them add their favorite spirit as they wish. 

Holiday Wassail Punch Recipe

INGREDIENTS

6 cups apple cider
1 cup orange juice
4 cinnamon sticks, plus additional
6-8 whole star anise, plus additional
6 whole cloves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of allspice
Bourbon or whiskey – optional

Garnish: optional but recommended
cinnamon sticks
star anise
pomegranate seeds
orange zest/slices
whole cranberries

METHOD

In a large dutch oven, bring all of the ingredients to a low boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a few hours. Strain. Serve hot or cold; spike with bourbon/whiskey, if desired.
Garnish with whole cinnamon sticks, star anise and orange slices.

SERVES 6

Looking for a new holiday punch but not familiar with the term Wassail or the verb wassailing? Listen in to this youtube video.

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