How to make your own Christmas Lambswool cocktail

Here’s our recipe for Lambswool, a hot, cider-based booze for sharing on cold winters evenings. Traditionally drunk on Twelfth night, this unusually named pagan throwback is consumed during the practice of "wassailing", the ancient ritual of awakening apple trees from their winter slumber to encourage a bountiful apple crop in the coming year.


  • 6 medium apples
  • 30 cloves
  • 350g / 12oz / 11/2 cups demerara sugar
  • 1.5l / 25fl oz / 6 cups dry cider
  • A few pinches of ground nutmeg
  • 2.5cm / 1inch piece of root ginger, peeled and grated.



  1. Core the apples and press five cloves into the skin of each apple. Load each apple with one tablespoon of demerara sugar, then cook on a baking tray in a pre-heated oven at 180°C/ 350°F / Gas Mark 4 for 30-35 minutes. Check regularly to avoid burning the apples
  2. Meanwhile, warm your cider gently in a pan, adding the remaining sugar, the nutmeg and grated ginger
  3. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then continue to heat gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove the baked apples from the oven and mash them up in a bowl using a potato masher or similar. (Allow the apples to cool before mashing… hot pulp splurged onto the skin will make you yelp like a pup). Remove the skin first for an aesthetically pleasing lambswool
  5. Add the mashed apples to the pan and use a whisk to combine them with the cider and spices. The more you whisk it, the more it is said to resemble lambswool
  6. Ladle the finished booze into a communal bowl, adding a further sprinkle of nutmeg before passing cups around to eager wassailers
  7. This steamy beverage should be served with toast, some of which is then dipped into the lambswool and hung on the branches of apple trees as an offering to the tree spirits. Lambswool is also poured under the tree to coax the roots into healthy growth. Wassail!


This recipe is taken from Brew It Yourself  by Richard Hood and Nick Moyle, available here