Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown are using windfall fruit for their take on the pagan hot drink, Wassail, which was typically drunk on Christmas Eve and the Twelth Night of Christmas (5th Jan).

We spent weekends in October and November gathering windfall apples and pears (the best way to tell they’re ripe is to let them fall to the ground rather than picking them off the tree). So, this year we pasteurised loads of apple juice and ran off a dozen litres of cider as well.

We also saved a load of apples as we cater our village Christmas carols, making and serving hot drinks for 100 in a neighbour’s horse barn. This year, in addition to the usual Smoking Bishop and Hot Mulled Sloe, we will reach back to another great English tradition: the wassail bowl.

Wassail? It’s likely the word comes from the Old Norse toast ‘ves hell’ (be well). Today, its meaning is more specific. The noun: a bowl of spiced ale or mulled wine consumed on Christmas Eve and Twelfth Night.

The verb: drink lots of the wassail bowl and enjoy a raucous celebration with friends and family, or singing Christmas carols (not mutually exclusive). “Here we go a wassailing…”

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Long before pumpkin-spiced drinks dominated autumn menus, baked spiced apple drinks were ubiquitous in the countryside and in the cities.

But can you translate this to a modern bar serve? Absolutely! While you can take the classic approach, baking apples and then simmering ale around them, we will take a shortcut. We will heat some of our apple juice with mulling spices, add ale and garnish with spiced dehydrated apple slices.

Here, a soup kettle or coffee urn replaces the punchbowl and ensures hot serves throughout the evening.