England's spin on the Christmas cocktail was the ancient beverage known as wassail, essentially Middle English for "cheers." The base alcohol was beer, mead, or wine, heated with sliced apples and spices and served in the customary wassail bowl. This version, scented with cloves and allspice, cleverly combines apples with cider and Calvados.
Yield Serves 4 to 6
1/4-inch-thick apple slices
2 tablespoons maple sugar (<a href="http://kingarthurflour.com" target="_blank">kingarthurflour.com</a>), plus more for sprinkling
4 allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 cup fresh cider
Two 12-ounce bottles ale, preferably Newcastle Brown Ale
1/2 cup Calvados
Sprinkle apple slices with maple sugar, and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes for garnish if desired.
Combine allspice berries and cloves in a cheesecloth sachet. Heat cider and spice sachet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat; cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. Stir
in 2 tablespoons maple sugar, and heat over medium heat
until it dissolves. Reduce heat to low and add ale. Heat for 8 minutes.
Add Calvados and heat for 3 minutes more. Remove
Divide among 4 to 6 heatproof glasses. Garnish with roasted apple slices if using.