Louisa’s Wassail

I have to give thanks to my friend Louisa, who always has a pot of this amazing hot drink simmering on her stove on holidays, especially the Winter Solstice. She shared her recipe and I’ve made this for family get-togethers, Halloween parties, a very chilly block party one year, and of course for Christmas. (Our block party was on such a cold day one year that my neighbor Rachel saved the day by bringing out hot homemade chicken noodle soup in cups on a tray!)

2 bottles dry red wine (Trader Joe’s Three Buck Chuck is fine.)
10 cups fresh apple cider
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
2 oranges, sliced thickly and studded around the edge with whole cloves

Add wine, cider and sugar to a large pot or crockpot. Tie the spices in a sachet of cheesecloth, or a coffee filter loosely tied with a rubber band. Add to the pot along with the orange slices.

Bring to a low boil in the pot. Let simmer for 20 minutes and turn heat down. You can remove the spice bundle if you like, but I often just leave it in. Ladle into mugs.