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“And therein lies the beauty of wassail: more than just another nice-tasting drink, it’s part of a long (if largely forgotten) tradition of celebrating the life that winter can seem determined to snuff out. It’s a fragrant, warming concoction mixed in bulk and set out for sharing, all but demanding that you call in a crowd. There’s really no such thing as wassail for one.”
—Speaking of seasonally appropriate drinks, the always excellent Rosie Schaap has a lovely piece in the Times on the history and mini-resurgence of Wassail, which reminds me of the tradition I grew up with, which is that after every Christmas Eve dinner we’d pass around a trophy-shaped goblet (a loving cup, per Wikipedia) filled with wassail and each drink for the duration of a short song (first “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” then “It’s [Drinker’s Name] Makes the World Go ‘Round”) until the booze was gone. I’m not sure what was in it exactly, but it definitely had alcohol, fruit, and something sparkly, although the recipe Rosie includes, by Julie Dowds of New York’s Churchill tavern, sounds a little tastier if possibly less chant-friendly.