Was­sail — the li­ba­tion of celebration — has a sto­ried his­tory

The Day - Sound & Country - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIEL TRAF­FORD

To those of you not from the early Vic­to­rian era, this may seem a strange phrase, but al­lowme to al­lay your fears: no princes of the church were harmed in Dick­ens’ ever­last­ing tale of re­demp­tion, for even Angli­cans frown on set­ting their cler­ics ablaze.

No, what Scrooge was re­fer­ring to was that ubiq­ui­tous English Christ­mas drink: Was­sail.

We’ve all heard of it fromthe Christ­mas carol. Ref­er­ences abound in pop­u­lar cul­ture. The char­ac­ters even go a-was­sail­ing in an episode of “Fam­ily Guy.” But what ex­actly is it?

Well, it’s hard to find the one true recipe for was­sail. It’s so old that even the an­cients prob­a­bly couldn’t de­cide on what to put in it, with each chief be­liev­ing his ver­sion was the best. But the con­sen­sus is that it’s a hot mulled cider or mead and has to in­clude cin­na­mon, nut­meg, gin­ger and an ap­ple or orange thrown in for good mea­sure.

So how old is it?

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