January is traditionally when people go wassailing. What this involves varies by region but basically you are scaring away any evil spirits from the fruit bushes and trees to ensure a good harvest in the summer.
A Wassail King was chosen and lead the procession from tree to tree. The Wassail Queen then placed hot cakes (toast or leftover Christmas cake?!) soaked in mead or cider in the boughs as a gift to the tree spirits or poured a libation of mead on the roots. Then they made as much noise as they could and sang:
Wassail the trees, that they may bear
us many an apple and many a pear:
All hail the bees and the fruits they bring,
As we give them a-wassailing.
As we all know, more bees, more fruit and better honey, better mead! American meadlovers often say “Wassail!” instead of “Cheers!” or “Slainte!” when drinking mead. Maybe dating back to immigration from traditional fruit growing nations in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Enjoy our recipe below.
- 400ml of Atlantic Dry Mead
- 125ml apple juice or cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- slices of fresh ginger root about half the size of your thumb
- 3 Cardamom pods (optional)
- 3 allspice berries or peppercorns (optional)
- star anise (optional)
- strip of orange peel
- strip of lemon peel
- 1-2 tsp of honey to taste
- Garnish: Slice of apple with a clove stud
Warm gently in a pan and allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.
Pour into a heat proof glass
Garnish with a slice of apple with a clove stud
Tip: You can substitute the spices with a spiced tea such as chai. Just don’t leave it too long!
You can substitute the Atlantic Dry Mead with Atlantic Dry Mead – White Port Barrel Aged or try Sauternes.