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Traditional English Wassail

(recipe, Nina Lary)

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The most traditional Old English wassail recipes call for whipped eggs and roasted crab apples, which makes for a rich and creamy, even frothy, drink. If you or your guests are averse to imbibing raw egg with your punch, simply skip that step; you’ll end up with a deep, spicy brew that’s just as delicious. This recipe has been adapted from the traditional Wassail Bowl in the book [%amazonProductLink "Some Like it Hot: 50 Drinks to Warm Your Spirits" asin=0811844048].


  1. 12 small red apples (or crab apples if you can find them)
  2. 10 whole cloves
  3. 10 allspice berries
  4. 2 cinnamon sticks
  5. 1 square of cheesecloth
  6. Kitchen twine or undyed string (about 3 inches long)
  7. 12 cups brown or amber ale
  8. 2 cups dark brown sugar
  9. 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  10. 1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
  11. 3 cups sweet sherry
  12. 10 eggs (optional)
  13. 2 lemons, cut into wedges for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Core the apples and place them in a baking pan; add water to cover the bottom. Bake until soft, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, tie the cloves, allspice berries, and cinnamon sticks into the piece of cheesecloth. Place the spice bundle, ale, brown sugar, ginger, and nutmeg into a large pot, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the sherry and reheat briefly (do not allow to boil).
  3. If you are adding the optional eggs, beat the egg yolks and whites separately, then combine them. Slowly pour the hot wine mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.
  4. Finally, place the baked apples into a large punch bowl or two medium-sized bowls, and pour the ale mixture over them. Drink from the bowl communally, or serve in mugs garnished with lemon wedges.