Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Countdown 17 : Punch

Wassail served from wooden bowls/cups
In Australia, in December, the weather is usually quite hot, so drinking the traditional warm wassail punch is  certainly not a common practice. However, already this month, I have been to a couple of Christmas parties where a refreshing punch was served as a thirst quenching festive drink on a hot day. I really enjoyed one which was a mixture of fruit juices and ginger ale, so I looked up an amazingly simple recipe which appears to be like the one I tasted..... Just mix equal quantities of  chilled apple juice, orange juice, ginger ale and lemonade ( vodka optional)  and serve with ice and chopped strawberries - perfect for Christmas in Summer. 

I was also amused by a blog post about a seasonal punch called "Santa's Little Helper , so named after the cute dog in 'The Simpsons" and because mothers need a Santa 's little helper  during Christmas preparations.... 
However, if you really want to try the traditional, here is recipe for Wassail which comes from an ancient English custom. The head of the household drank to the health of  all celebrating with him. The bowl was passed to each in turn to drink from, repeating "wass hael" meaning "be whole" or "be well". 
Wassail Recipe 
from The Williamsburg Cookbook 
(20 servings) 

1 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
3 lemon slices
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
6 cups dry red wine
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup dry sherry
2 lemons, sliced 

Boil the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and 3 lemon slices in ½ cup of water for 5 minutes and strain. Discard the cinnamon sticks and lemon slices. 

Heat but do not boil the remaining ingredients. Combine with the syrup, garnish with the lemon slices, and serve hot...  

If you live in Australia, you will probably have to drink your Christmas  Wassail punch yourself, as it is rare to find carollers needing a drink to warm them up from the snow. Enjoy! 

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