Medieval brews for merry-making 

Did you know that the first Christmas carols were actually Anglo-Saxon drinking songs? That's the legend surrounding "wassail," a sweet, spicy winter brew that takes its name from the Old English toast "waes hael," or "be whole."

The recipe has many varieties, but here's one from the archives of House and Garden magazine. Simmer a gallon of apple cider on the stove for 15 minutes. Add four cinnamon sticks, a cup of dark-brown sugar, and spice to taste with cloves, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Add slices of apples and oranges. Now add a pint of gin, vodka or brandy -- whichever you prefer. If possible, keep the wassail warm in a crock pot. Ladle into punch cups. Cheers!

For another recipe, go to the Epicurious website.

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