I remember when I got my very first Crock-Pot I thought, “What have I been doing with my life before this magical invention?” For these hectic holiday times, the Crock-Pot is a beacon of hope and reprieve. I have to make dinner for eight people and finish wrapping all of these presents AND sit in a mall parking lot for 35 minutes? Crock-Pot meal to the rescue. The way I approach cocktails is from a very culinary point of view. You’re essentially creating flavor profiles in a glass as much as you would on a plate. Think about it like you’re making a soup that is made with booze. Soup booze! Okay that may be a stretch, but you see where I’m going with this. So for today’s cocktail recipe, I borrow the tool of every busy home cook and create a warm Crock-Pot cocktail. The Wassail is essentially a warm mulled cider beverage. Wassailing can refer to two distinct practices both originating in England. The first is a ritual of visiting orchards and singing incantations and drinking mulled beverages to celebrate and ensure a good apple harvest for the next year. The second practice refers to what is now commonly known as caroling, going to door to door singing songs and being served these warm beverages during the Christmas holiday, specifically Christmas Eve. This version of the mulled beverage is definitely worth dropping a beat to and hitting those high notes. The chamomile and juniper add a nice depth and spice to the what is otherwise a traditional wassail recipe.
DAY 10: CROCK-POT WASSAIL
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups orange juice
2 cups cranberry juice
4 bags of chamomile tea
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tbsp juniper berries
2 inch knob of ginger peeled and cut into coins
1 cup honey
1 orange sliced
1 lemon slice
METHOD: Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook for 3-4 hours on low. Remove tea bags and serve warm.
SLOW YOUR ROLE
GARNISH: apple slice or orange slice
1 ½ oz rye whiskey or apple brandy
4 oz Crock-Pot Wassail
METHOD: Add rye to a mug, and top with warm Wassail.
PARTY TIP: You can serve this directly out of the Crock-Pot. Set out mugs and different spirits that you think would pair well with the cider and guests can build their cocktails to their preference. It’s also great to not pre-batch the cocktail so that guests can enjoy a non-alcoholic version and so that you don’t exclude the kiddos at your party. The great thing is you can prep this the day before. Keep in the fridge and just warm back up in your crock pot a couple hours before your party.
WITH A TWIST: The wonderful thing about this cider is that it pairs with a lot of different spirits. Set any of these spirits out and it will make for a delicious cocktail: bourbon, spiced rum, Grand Marnier, Cardamaro, black strap rum. You can also serve this cocktail cold with gin and topped with sparkling wine for a delicious and spiced version of a French 75.
Cheers, and here is to setting it and forgetting it!
Your neighborhood bar geek,