According to an article on Wiki, historical wassail recipes were actually closer to mulled beer than the spiced apple cider we enjoy around the modern Christmas table. (See this article over at Realbeer.com for a more in-depth history on mulled beer.)
The medieval recipe shared in this Wikipedia article is as follows:
Heat in a large bowl and top with pieces of bread, for sops.
I prefer not soggy slices of bread in my beverage, thank you.
So, I don’t really know if Spiced Apple Cider is called Wassail, or Mulled Cider, or Spiced Apple Cider, but whatever the historically-correct name, I want to share my family recipe (sans sops) with you for your own holiday enjoyment.
Hot Spiced Apple Cider
You will need:
A very large stockpot
A tea leaf infuser or some cheesecloth and twine (to contain the spices. trust me, not fun to fish ’em all out individually…)
- 1 Gallon apple cider – I have also used unfiltered apple juice and gotten very enjoyable results.
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tangerines or lemons, thinly sliced and any seeds removed.
Heat all ingredients to boiling. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or place on lowest heat setting in a crock pot, if you plan to have it warm all day.