A great holiday drink for company is a warm spiced cider and wine combination which I spike with Cointreau and brandy. Floating fruits in the punch add a festive touch. I enjoy adding fresh cranberries along with a strong set of citrus fruits. Each time I make this, I vary the ingredients. Apple is a good addition. Some of the recipes for wassail incorporate eggs and butter. This version does not. Wassail enjoys a rich history going back to England. Perhaps first as a pagan harvest ritual the tradition evolved to a wish for good health by Saxon times. A cheer from the host of "Wes hal," meaning be in good health. was followed by a response of "Drink hal" or drink health from the guests. A dry rose with cranberry juice tints the apple cider: The color of this beverage is a rich festive hue of an earthy red. —Sagegreen
apple, cored, pared and sliced into rings, optional
honey, to taste
organic cane sugar, to taste
fresh grated nutmeg
peeled grated fresh ginger
premium cranberry juice
premium apple cider, unfiltered
dry rose wine
brandy (or light rum)
fresh lime juice
fresh lemon juice
additional slices of orange studded with cloves for garnish
Loosely stud the orange, lemon and lime with cloves and set aside. Combine the honey and sugar. Warm this gently to dissolve the sugar in a large crock pot or Dutch oven. It is a good idea to put the ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and allspice into a teabag pouch or sack, which you can remove before serving. The cinnamon sticks are easy to remove. Add all the spices.
Slice the clove-studded fruits as thinly as you can. Add all the fruits to the pot and stir to coat. Add the cider. Bring this to a gentle boil and simmer for 2-4 hours. Then add the wine and keep at a low temperature for another 2 hours.
About 1/2 hour before serving add the Cointreau, brandy, and citrus juices. Taste for sweetness and make any adjustments. Continue to keep the beverage warm. Remove the spice pouch and fish out any the loose spices. Ladle the wassail preferably into glass cups with some selective fruit to float on top or side garnish. Alternatively, you can decant this to a pitcher for serving or in a wassail bowl which you can keep replenishing as needed.