I had no idea wassail was a drink before doing this. Is it common knowledge? I totally missed it. I'd heard that song about going a-wassailing before, but I just figured it was the kind of gibberish you put into songs when you don't know what else to say, kind of the way Robin Thicke does things.
It turns out that wassail is shit you're supposed to give to carolers. I think back in the day, caroling was just a scam made up by the destitute to get free shit from neighbors. Anyway, my recipe called for a slow cooker, and that meant that I had to hit up the house of a Canadian friend to make use of their kitchen. You'll be excited to note that Canadian kitchens are the same as American ones, only when you open the fridge, no one yells "close the fuckin' fridge, I ain't paying to cool the whole house."
My wassail was made from apple cider, cranberry juice, and assorted spices that are exactly the same as all the other spices everyone uses at Christmas -- cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, shit like that. Then you put some cloves in oranges, heat that shit up, and add brandy. Not too shabby, right? Right!
For a fun change of pace, wassail didn't taste like boot nectar. It tasted like someone juiced an apple pie, and that's not terrible. With the added brandy, it still tasted like someone juiced an apple pie, but with an aftertaste that said, "Hey, we're going to be hungover for work tomorrow."
I can't say I have much of a fondness for warm, alcoholic apple juice (this would have been better over ice), but I'm not an 18th-century Englishman up to his hose-clad nuts in snow singing about the Lord on my neighbor's lawn either, so there's probably some perspective we need to keep. All things being equal, wassail isn't half bad.
Holiday spirit: Sexy Mrs. Claus