The cocktail is an art form that peaked in the middle of the 20th century and has been in rapid decline since. As a young lad, I was schooled in the fine art of cocktailing by my father and grandfathers, I learned many valuable lessons that I plan to pass on. I also want to resurrect some of the old classics that vastly surpass the sugary & fruity concoctions made today with their simplicity, elegance and bold flavors. Most of the time I will focus on one drink, and to provide, at least in my opinion, the definitive recipe, but hope to expand to other related topics as I see fit. Please mix yourself a cocktail, read, drink, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Seeing that our list is a little short on classic holiday drinks there will be at least a couple appearing this week.  Here is a classic from Jolly Olde England that is sure to warm your soul and fuel your caroling long into the cold night.

Wassailing is an ancient southern English tradition that was originally performed with the intention of ensuring a good crop of cider apples for the next year's harvest.  It evolved into the yuletide tradition of caroling door to door with a bowl of sherry-soaked warm cidery goodness.  The name comes from the Middle English salutation ‘Waes Hail’, meaning ‘good health’ or ‘to your health’.  The revelers would go door-to-door singing in exchange for a refill.

To make this cold weather cocktail, warm two quarts of apple cider over medium heat until it starts to steam.  Add one half cup of brown sugar and two teaspoons ground nutmeg.  In a tea ball place, approximately six cinnamon sticks, a dozen each cloves and allspice berries, and a vanilla bean.  Drop the tea ball into the cider and let simmer for 30 minutes while enjoying another of our holiday favorites.  Remove the tea ball and add one cup each of fresh squeezed lemon and orange juices.  Pour in one and a half liters of dry sherry.  Find the worlds largest roady cup and head out into the cold with your band of musical merry makers singing this:
            Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
            Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;
            Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;
            With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.

2 qts apple cider
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground nutmeg
6 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
12 allspice berries
1 vanilla bean
1 cup orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
1 ½ liters dry sherry
Heat cider over medium heat until steaming.  Add sugar and nutmeg.  Put remaining spices in a tea ball and set in the cider.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove tea ball and add the remaining ingredients.  Serves six to eight.

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