"Wassail" is a traditional winter holiday thing. There are a bunch of recipes out there, and they are all different, so this is the recipe I came up with by picking things from other recipes that sounded good and throwing them together. This is not a good drink for getting "fucked up," it's more of a "warmth and good cheer" drink. It is much loved by aunts.
You will need:
- a big slow cooker,
- an oven,
- two whole oranges,
- four cinnamon sticks,
- a bunch of whole cloves (like 40),
- a gallon of apple cider (not hard cider, just like the sweet kind you find in grocery stores etc),
- and a bottle of brandy.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. With a skewer or a fork or something, poke like 20 holes in each orange. In each hole, stick the pointy bit of one of the cloves. At this point you have a weird orange with a bunch of cloves in it. Put them on a baking sheet and bake them for an hour. These weird hot oranges you now have are called "pomanders" and they are the vessels that contain the wassail souls you need for your wass.
Put your hot weird oranges in the slow cooker. Also add the cinnamon sticks. Pour in most of the cider gallon. Pour brandy in until you start to feel like you might have poured enough. You probably have. At this point if you want to add some nutmeg or allspice or whatever, go ahead. This is jazz, improvise.
Slow cook it on high for like three hours or on low for like five hours. Taste it and if it is too boozy add more cider. If it isn't boozy enough add more brandy. This isn't rocket science. Serve it hot, in mugs. Make too much. Refrigerate the leftovers (oranges, cinnamon sticks and all) and then heat it up again tomorrow. If you want more, keep the same oranges but add brandy and cider and maybe cinnamon sticks then get it cooking again for a bit. The second batch will be different from the first, which is some kind of poignant metaphor. This year we ran out of cider when making the second batch so we added regular apple juice and it was different but still very good.
If you make it and you put different stuff in it, please let me know what you did and how it worked out for you, by sending an email to tom [at] nowwearealltom [dot] com.