Ever wonder what wassailing means? It's the medieval precursor to modern-day caroling, where the singers are offered a drink from the wassail bowl after they carol. Wassail itself is a hot mulled cider punch. Our version simmers apple cider and orange juice together with traditional mulling spices, fresh fruit, honey, and slices of spicy fresh ginger for a sangria-like twist on regular mulled apple cider. Spiking it with bourbon or whiskey is up to you, but this drink is worth pulling out the slow cooker for whether you're expecting carolers or holiday guests.
This modern wassail contains plenty of fresh winter fruit that adds sweet and tart flavors to the cider and juice. Add in a little pouch of whole cloves, allspice, and ginger, throw in a few cinnamon sticks, and let the slow cooker transform the juice into a hot punch that's warming on a frigid day. The best part is that the whole house is enveloped with its enticing scent. Since the spiking is optional, even little ones can sip away on this winter treat.
Slow Cooker Wassail Punch
For the wassail:
4 (1/4-inch thick) slices fresh ginger, smashed
12 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup honey
1 medium navel orange, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1 medium tart apple, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 medium lemon, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
For serving: (optional)
Bourbon, brandy, or aged rum
Place the ginger, cloves, and allspice in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie together with kitchen string to form a pouch. Place in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Cover and heat on the LOW setting until simmering and the flavors meld, about 3 hours. Keep on the warm setting for up to 3 hours.
Serve as is, or place 1 cup wassail in a mug and add 1 to 1 1/2 ounces liquor if desired. Garnish with cinnamon sticks if desired.
Storage: Strain out the fruit and spices and store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat.