Williams Family Wassail Recipe 

A family tradition.

Chris Williams' Family Wassail
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs

I fell in love with cooking at a very young age and devoured cookbooks the way other people ate Tic Tacs. When I was still a teenager, I realized that the best way to understand a culture was through its food. I traveled throughout Europe for years, cooking and learning and cooking some more. When I came back Stateside, I knew my love of food, culture, and people was always going to be my bread and butter. But it wasn't until I opened up my first restaurant—named after my great-grandmother Lucille—that I fully embraced just how much meaning my family recipes carried for me, and by extension, for our guests too.

Wassail was a Christmas tradition when I was growing up, and it was one of my great-grandmother's favorites. We served the drink to the traveling circus of friends and family who filled our home every December. And now at Lucille's, the wassail is offered with the same spirit of joy behind it. Served warm in a coupe glass, it's garnished with a dehydrated lemon slice and a cinnamon stick.

Our version shows a little of my own touch, too, by incorporating a couple of unexpected ingredients that truly make it sing: nutmeg and vodka. The nutmeg gives the drink a palpable but not overpowering zing of spice. We use Highway Vodka, a hemp-based product of my brother's Houston distillery. The spirit is incredibly clean, and it imparts a velvety viscosity to any cocktail. Clearly, we like to keep things in the family, especially around Christmastime.

Chris Williams is the chef and owner of Lucille's and Late August in Houston, TX (@lucilleshouston)


  • 4 cups unfiltered apple cider

  • 1 ½ cups fresh-squeezed orange juice (from 3 large oranges)

  • ½ cup pineapple juice

  • 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from ½ lemon)

  • 2 tablespoons honey 

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 

  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish 

  • ¾ cup vodka (such as Highway)

  • Lemon slices, for garnish


  1. Bring apple cider, orange juice, pineapple juice, and lemon juice to a simmer in a saucepan or stockpot over medium.

  2. Stir in honey, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 35 to 45 minutes. Stir in vodka; garnish with cinnamon sticks and lemon slices. Serve warm.

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