[Sca-cooks] mulled wine

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Thu Mar 17 16:36:09 PDT 2011

It's not quite the season (it was 70 degrees here today) but here's an  
Q&A on Wassail since you asked.

Wassail. — Would you kindly give me the old recipe for wassail? I want  
to revive it in my family this year, but want a good old English  
recipe. Is it still made in Norfolk? Is their recipe the same as the  
old? A. W. Taylor.
[The ingredients of the earlier Wassail Bowl, it would seem, were not  
the same as those of a later period. In Wharton's Amjlia Sacra, i.  
164, is a curious account of a visit of King Edgar to the Abbey of  
Abingdon. It is there said that "the king was glad, and commanded that  
hydromel [metheglin] should be abundantly supplied for

[ * His Ecclesiastical HistoryEpitomiz'd, 1682-3, is neither in the  
Bodleian Library nor in that of the British Museum. The latter  
contains a copy of another work by him, entitled, The Honour of  
Chivalry, or the Famous and Delectable History of Don lielliunis of  
Greece. Translated out of Italian. In Three Parts. London, 4to, 1683.  
The preface to second and third parts is signed J. Shurley.]

[t Nisbet (voL i. p. 263) states that "the most exsctest copy he had  
seen of James Pont's MS. Collections of the Blazons of the Nobilitv  
and Gentry in Scotland in the year 1624, was in the House of Seton,  
where he died."— Ed.]

the visitors to drink. What followed? The attendants iln-.v the liquor  
all day in full sufficiency for the guests; but the liquor itself  
could not be exhausted from the vessel, except a hnndbrcath, though  
the Northanhimbri mode merry, and at night went home jolly!" Leaving  
the miraculous part of the story out of the question, it appcnrs (says  
Dr. Milner) that this w4s a true Wassailing bout, and that metheglin  
was the beverage made use of on the occasion (Arducologia, xi. 421.)  
The melheglin, or mend, is a fermented liquor, of some potency, made  
from honey. Hence from a metheglin jollification of thirty days after  
a wedding comes the expression so familiar to the friends of a newly- 
married couple—the Honeymoon.

In later times, however, the composition of the Wassail Bowl was ale,  
nutmeg, sugar, toast, and rousted crabs or apples, which has also  
received the more comfortable name of Lamb's Wool. The contents of the  
bowl are specified in the first verse of "The Wassaillera" Song,"  
siill sung on New Year's Eve in Gloucestershire: —

"Wassail! Wassail 1 all over the town j
Our toast is white, our ale is brown;
Our bowl is made of maplin tree,
We be good fellows all—I drink to thee."

In that pleasant brochure. Cups and their Customs, p. 3G, occurs the  
following receipt for the Wassail Bowl:—"Put into a quart of warm beer  
one pound of raw sugar, on which grate a  nutmeg and some ginger; then  
odd four glasses of sherry and two quarts more of beer, with three  
slices of lemon; add some sugar, if required, and serve it with three  
slices of toasted bread floating in it."]

This comes from the journal Notes and Queries, Third Series, Volume 4,  
July-December 1863. Pages 499-500.


On Mar 17, 2011, at 10:17 AM, Ian Kusz wrote:

> I'm finding lots of recipes for spiced or fruity wine; but the only  
> stuff I
> find for "wassail" is not period.....is wassail a class of thing?  I  
> mean,
> is hypocras a wassail? Or is there an actual recipe for period  
> wassail?

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