Tonight is Twelfth Night, the official end to the Christmas holiday season, and therefore a good excuse for a final celebration. If you are vague about the Twelve Days of Christmas, there are links below this post to my stories from previous years which explain their origin and traditions (including of course, food!)
I found the recipe which supplied the title for this post in a book called On Uncle Sam's Water Wagon: 500 recipes for delicious drinks, which can be made at home (New York and London, 1919.) As the title suggests, this is a temperance text which supplies recipes for “delicious, appetizing, and wholesome drinks free from the alcoholic taint.”
I am a little mystified as to why cider (which appears in quite a number of the recipes) is free from “alcoholic taint.” Perhaps it assumes non-alcoholic cider? Or was it very weak cider, in the same way that “near beer” was acceptable. Anyway, I give you the recipe for tonight - feel free to use cider tainted to whatever alcoholic level you desire:
Twelfth Night Cider
Put three quarts of cider in a porcelain-lined kettle, add one fourth cup of vanilla syrup, a bit of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg tied in a muslin bag, and a piece of lemon peel. Let it simmer for fifteen minutes, remove spice bag and lemon peel, and pour into a punch bowl. Put in the bowl a few baked apples that have been baked with cinnamon and sugar. Serve very hot.
Another interesting project might be to plan ahead to make the following beverage for next Christmas – assuming that you have access to elder bushes where you live.
To make Elder Wine at Christmas.
Take of Malaga or Lipara Raisins 20 Pounds, rub them clean, and shred them small; then take 5 Gallons of Water, boil it an Hour; and when it is near cold, put it in a Tub with the Raisins; let them steep ten Days, stirring them once or twice a Day; then strain it through a Hair Sieve, and, by Infusion, draw 3 Pints of Elder Juice, and 1 Pint of Damson Juice; make the Juice into a thin Syrup, a Pound of Sugar to a Pint of Juice; and not boil it much, but just enough to keep. When you have strained out the Raisin Liquor, put it, with the Syrup, into a Vessel sit for it, and 2 Pounds of Sugar; slop the Bung with a Cork till it gathers to a Head; then open it, and let it stand till it has done working.; then put the Cork in again, and stop it very close, and let it stand in a warm Place two or three Months, and then bottle it. Make the Elder and Damson Juice into Syrup in its Season, and keep it in a cold Cellar till you have Convenience to make the Wine.
The complete family-piece: and, country gentleman, and farmer's best guide (London, 1737)
My 2007 series of posts explaining The Twelve Days of Christmas, with a story for each of the days inspired by the traditional song:-
Other Twelve Days of Christmas posts include recipes for Twelfth Cake, Epiphany Tart, and Cod Cakes.