Chef Walter Staib's Perfect Holiday Hand-Warming Wassail

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Wassail dates back to the old English custom of wassailing (toasting and singing) during the Christmas and New Year’s season. In those days, a big punch bowl was filled with the warm, spiced wine drink and everyone gathered around the wassail bowl for a toast to the season. Customers at City Tavern can warm up with a restorative cup of wassail all winter long—Chef Staib serves this hot drink whenever there’s a chill in the air.


2 tbsp. grated orange rind (about 1 med. orange)
2 tsp. grated lemon rind (about 1 med. lemon)
10 whole cloves
5 sticks cinnamon
1 bottle (750 ml) red Burgundy wine
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg


  • Place orange and lemon rinds, cloves and cinnamon sticks into a piece of cotton cheesecloth; tie up with kitchen twine to make a sachet.
  • Pour wine into large saucepan. Stir in sugar and add sachet.
  • Place saucepan over low heat; add nutmeg. Heat until the wine is very warm but do not boil (boiling will burn off the alcohol content).
  • Remove from heat and discard sachet. Pour hot wine into punch bowl to serve, if desired.
Source: Chef Walter Staib

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