Wassail Cocktail (1)
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  • Food: Wassail Cocktail
  • Writer: Nicolas Wilson
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

Hello and good evening! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. This week, I’m a little behind on my Christmas cocktail series.

Because photographing a drink after 5 p.m. on weekdays has proven unfeasible, the project may have to be relegated to the weekends.

Without hot spiked cider, no collection of Christmas cocktails would be complete, so now I bring to you: the wassail!

“Wassailing” is an Old English tradition with pagan roots that celebrates the fall harvest, according to Maggie Savarino in The Seasonal Cocktail Companion.

I’d never heard of a wassail until I came across the recipe in Maggie’s book, but they’re reportedly popular in the Northern Midwest. It’s just a mix of apples and spices laced with bourbon that may be made in a variety of ways.

The sweetness of your wassail will be determined by the apple cider you choose, which is usually quite sweet. Try my mulled wine or hot toddy for a toasty but not overly sweet Christmas drink.

Wassail Cocktail

Wassail Cocktail Yum (1)
Food: Wassail Cocktail (Source: The Recipe Critics)
Time to Prepare: 10 minutes

30 minutes to prepare

40-minute total time.

Wassail cocktails are made with actual apple cider, ginger, lemon, spices, and, of course, bourbon. Wassails are a great way to warm up on a cold day! Depending on how much warm cider mixture you use for each drink, this recipe makes 4 to 6 drinks.


Wassail Cocktail Home made (1)
Food: Wassail Cocktail (Source: The Recipe Critics)
  • 4 cups apple cider (or unfiltered apple juice, doctored up with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice)
  • ½ inch nub of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-star anise (optional, but they’re pretty!)
  • ½ vanilla bean split down the middle with the insides scooped out (or ¼ ounce vanilla extract)
  • Bourbon (plan on about 1 ½ ounces per drink. I used Jim Beam)


  1. Combine all of the nonalcoholic components in a medium pot and cook for at least thirty minutes, preferably over an hour.
  2. Pour bourbon into mugs using a jigger or shot glass. Fill the glass halfway with hot spiced cider. Cinnamon sticks, star anise, lemon slices, and/or thinly sliced red apples are all good garnishing ideas (highly recommended).


  • TURN IT AROUND: Brown ale or actual cranberry juice can be used in place of some of the cider. Other whole spices, such as cloves, allspice berries, and/or white peppercorns, can be included as well. In a crock pot, you can keep a large batch of cider warm.