In the South during the holidays there is a certain smell that lingers in stores and homes almost everywhere. It is detested by children but loved by adults. It brings the holiday atmosphere to peak performance. There is just something about Wassail that says, “Home.” It has a very distinctive aroma that can be singled out in a room full of goodies.
As most children will say Wassail is the most disgusting drink ever dreamed up by mean adults. It is worse than apple cider. I was one of these small children and even young adults who kept good and clear of this potion. When we would visit our local Civil War Mansion called Glenmore, I would hate the smells from the brewing pots of apple cider and Wassail. It just tasted like adults and the weird drinks that they are always fussing over. Oh, it tastes so good. Blah, Blah, Blah.
Then I became one of the adults. It was on a trip to Biltmore Estates with my Mother, my Aunt Jo, and my cousin Julie when I decided this is the best drink in the world. My mother is constantly buying Wassail mixes. She will then bring you a glass and say “Oh, try this it is so good,” and then she starts the MMMM, MMMM, MMMM. As her child, I must try what she brings me. So I do. Well at Biltmore they had some made and I tried it. I don’t know why, I have always hated this nasty stuff. How was today going to be any different from the countless other times she asked me to try this drink.
I let the warm liquid slide down my throat and I waited for the Yuck factor to begin. I waited, I waited. It was delightful. It was good. Well that it, I have officially crossed over. I am old, I am a true adult. I am one of the ones that makes the food at holidays. I am no longer the younger generation. So it is only befitting that the enjoyment of Wassail has begun.
Oh dear, what next! How in all my 35 years have I let this drink go to the wayside. Why did I not enjoy it. Well, I’m not sure, but it is delicious. I have made it countless times since that trip. It reminds me of my mom, of holidays past. I reminds me of loved ones who are gone and it brings the holidays into my home no matter what time of year. The smell alone can make me curl up on the couch with my mug, and close my eyes to feel those memories.
Now I have taken to making my children try it. Let me say, they hate it. Of course they would, it is something you must grow into. But the smell, will be engrained in their minds. Then that one day when they are older, with their own children sitting around the fire, they will make Wassail and cherish the taste and memories it brings.
Please give this a try. It is such a part of the South and a part of the holidays. It is a drink to share with friends, family, and for children to grimace at. Look at that pot. It makes me want to make some right now, and I can’t. I don’t have any of the ingredients and I am 33 miles from the nearest store. I am in the worst dilemma. Someone make this for me, and bring it to me!!!
- 2 quarts Apple Cider
- 2 cups Orange Juice
- 1 can (46 oz) pineapple juice
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 1/3 cup Honey
In a large pot combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a crockpot or beverage warmer to serve. Serve warm.