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Wassail

Wassail
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Chantal Tseng

This Charles Dickens-inspired Wassail, a traditional warming harvest cocktail, was created by Chantal Tseng, the founder of Cocktails for End Times and formerly the bar manager and senior bartender at the now-closed Mockingbird Hill in Washington, D.C. “I'm a huge fan of making wassail or mulled ale in the early winter,” she says.

Wassail is most often made with spiced apple cider, but Tseng’s version calls for a combination of brown ale and sweet, rich oloroso sherry—just as warming a combo and arguably even more complex and delicious.

While the drink is fantastic on its own, particularly for pleasing a winter holiday gathering, any leftovers can be reduced to make a syrup, which Tseng then uses in a bright bourbon-based citrus sour. “Mulled ale is already on its way to being a syrup, so I love using the leftover Wassail to make a syrup,” she says.

Ingredients

  • 4 12-ounce bottles brown ale (such as Sam Smith nut brown ale)
  • 4 ounces oloroso sherry
  • 2 apples, scored
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 long orange peel studded with cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 
  • Garnish: 10-12 apple slices
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg

Steps

Serves 10-12.

  1. Add the beer, sherry, apples, lemon zest, orange peel, cinnamon and cardamom into a pot and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, until the apples soften.

  2. Add brown sugar to taste (about 1/2 cup) and stir until dissolved, then remove from heat.

  3. Divide among 10 to 12 punch cups or mugs, garnishing each with freshly grated nutmeg and an apple slice.

  4. Reserve any remaining Wassail for use in a Wassail Sour.