I’m just going to go ahead and apologize if the term “wassail” refers specifically to the warm and cozy drink filled with pineapple and orange juice. I’m not sure if there are any dedicated wassail-ists out there who will be highly offended by me referring to this recipe with the same name. People can get really intense about their holiday traditions!
To me, wassail is any warm, spiced drink that you only have at Christmas parties. Or, in my case, at your high school performance of The Nutcracker. Back in the day I was once a “ballerina”, which is sort of how ballet became my favorite form of vestibular therapy. I wasn’t ever that great. Although, not to toot any horns, I did get cast as a soldier and a baker in the Tulsa Ballet’s yearly production, which I swear is one of the best in the country. It was pretty intense, especially to be a baker. When you’re a soldier, you just carry around wooden guns. Bakers had to carry around 10lb trays with styrofoam cakes that were the size of my tiny little body. One poor girl dropped hers and the loud noise caused her to pee right on the stage in front of hundreds of people. I guarantee that girl hates The Nutcracker now…and probably cake.
The much less intense show was at my ballet studio, where everyone’s parents and 13 year old boyfriends (of which I did not have because no one remotely fancied me in high school) would show up and cheer us on. Afterwards we all indulged in treats our parents brought, and my ballet teacher’s famous wassail.
My mom loves wassail too. She usually makes entirely too much and force feeds me and my husband large mugs of it every year. We started to get wise and spike it with rum. Once my Vestibular Migraine hit though, I had a tough time drinking large amounts of citrus…and rum. Orange juice is particularly rough. I just figured I could never have wassail again, until another reader asked about something festive to drink while wrapping Christmas presents.
Not only did my house smell fantastic, but this recipe is so easy. It tastes very much like the traditional version you might be used. to. Cinnamon and cloves give a hint of holiday spice to the tart cranberry flavor that’s mellowed with the sweetness of apple juice. I used Central Market’s brand of Honeycrisp Apple Juice. Whole Foods has a good one or any brand without added ingredients or sugar. I used my crockpot, but you can easily do this on the stovetop as well.
A citrus free twist on the classic recipe, this holiday wassail will bring back Christmas memories! Just dump all the ingredients in your crock pot or on the stove top, and forget about it as your house begins to smell like cinnamon, apples, and cloves!
- 3 cups honeycrisp apple juice (nothing added)
- 2 cups cranberry juice (nothing added)
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1-2 apples, sliced (1 if large and 2 if smaller)
- 1 tbsp honey
Combine all the ingredients in your crockpot and set the temperature for low and time for 3 hours. After 3 hours, either keep on warm or strain the apples, sticks, and cloves out of the mixture and serve.
* You can also make this on the stove top by simmering for about 30-40 minutes until fragrant.