Wassailing is an ancient pagan custom most common to the West Country. To this day, mulled apple juice or cider (with or without additional spirits) remains a popular warming drink all winter long.

To go the whole hog and serve a wassail punch in all its glory, the drink should be fired in steaming measures through the branches of the most prolific apple tree in the orchard.

The tree must also be adorned with cubes of cider soaked toast hanging from the branches. Pots are banged, songs are sung and yet more cider still is poured on the roots of the tree - evils spirits are warded off and a bountiful harvest is henceforth ensured.

If you just want to make the recipe, however, follow the steps below.


  • 2 Pears
  • 12 Cloves
  • 1.4l Apple juice
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Whole star anise
  • 1tbsp Sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Bourbon, or whiskey (optional, but highly recommended)


  • STEP 1

    Pre heat the oven to 200C

  • STEP 2

    Stud the pear skins with the cloves and roast with 200ml of the apple juice in a baking tray for 20 minutes, then put to one side.

    Pears studded with cloves to make Wassail punch
    Pears studded with cloves to make Wassail punch
  • STEP 3

    Bring the remaining ingredients to a low simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then strain and keep warm.

  • STEP 4

    Chop the roasted pear into small pieces, taking care to remove any of the cloves and distribute between heatproof glasses. Pour over the hot juice and serve piping hot (spiked with a splash of booze if you want?)

Recipe by Claire Thompson.