Wassail – A Festive and Delicious Holiday Drink


Hi everyone! It’s Colleen here. Every year for the Christmas holiday, I make a big pot of Wassail, something I have been doing as long as I can remember, and every year without fail people always ask…what? What is it? What is Wassail? And I always reply…did you ever hear the song Here We Go A Wassailing? Instantly they are like ooooohhhh yeah!

I just think it’s a fun and festive offering for the holidays. I keep a big pot of  it simmering on the stove. I always make people who have never had it taste it, and I always catch them going back for more – I love it!

Years ago, when I was a Bank Manager, I would bring gallons of Wassail into my branch and have it simmering in a crock pot out in the lobby on December 23 & 24th. The whole bank smelled incredibly delicious – it put us all in a festive mood, the customers LOVED it and it was a fantastic conversation starter!

Wassail is traditionally drunk as an integral part of “wassailing”, an ancient English drinking ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest. The purpose of wassailing was/is to awaken the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. I would LOVE to go wassailing in England some day – I am putting that on my Bucket List!

Wassail makes your home smell delicious, warms you to your toes and is easily transported. Once made and cooled, I pour it back into the cider container(s) (and or OJ container(s)) and take it with us to wherever our holiday travels have us going. I then reheat it in a pot once there. I think there are as many variations on wassail recipes as there are cider apple orchards in England. This is just what I have settled on over the years.

I make this non-alcoholic so all ages can enjoy it – if you want to spike it up, add in some Brandy or Apple Brandy.

What is one of your favorite holiday traditions?

Wassail Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This traditional festive holiday drink can be served with or without alcohol so everyone can enjoy it.
Recipe type: Drinks
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 ½ cups orange juice (no pulp)
  • 6 oz can of pineapple juice
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • ¼ cup mulling spices OR to make your own mulling spice by combining 4 sticks of cinnamon, 3 long strips of orange rind, 1 TBS whole cloves and 1 TBS whole allspice berries.
  1. Combine everything in a large pot; bring to a boil, stirring often. (If you have a metal spice ball, use it, if not, just throw it all in then pour through a strainer prior to serving or storing).
  2. Turn off the stove and let it sit for 30 minutes before reheating to serve.
  3. Serve it very warm like you would tea.
  4. You can make it ahead, refrigerate it and reheat as necessary.
  5. Wassail keeps well for 4-5 days.
If you want to make an alcoholic version add in some Brandy or Cognac.

After you have made the Wassail, you can also stud an orange with cloves and add that to your pot or crock pot and slice up an apple to add to the pot as well festive look.

If you don’t like the flavor of pineapple juice, replace it with apple juice.


For a fantastic holiday gift that doesn’t take much work and will leave everyone talking about it (and wanting more!!), you have to try this Apple Pie Moonshine. For a more sophisticated cocktail, try this Cranberry Champagne Cocktail, a favorite of mine – the sugared cranberries are a festive touch!

Happy Holidays!


  1. Beth says

    yum, totally need to save this for a year when we’re having people over! don’t think hubby and i need that much wassail for 2 of us lol.

  2. Jeanie says

    Wow! Thanks for the memories. I just traveled back to my junior high days; we sang that song in acapella choir every year. Not to mention, that, I love wassail! Wishing you a very Blessed and Merry Christmas!

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