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Thursday, December 16, 2010

SFoodie Advent Calendar, Day 12: Wassail from Drinkwell Soda

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Drinkwell's naturally fermented wassail.
  • Drinkwell's naturally fermented wassail.

The SFoodie Advent Calendar counts down the days before Christmas /Nondenominationalwinterholiday, one treat at a time.

Here's a bit of etymology we bet you don't know: The infamous "wazzzaaaaaaah" in this Budweiser commercial isn't, in fact, a corruption of "what's up" but "wassail!" which comes from the Old English waes haeil, or "Good health!" Budweiser had original intended it to be a holiday special featuring men wearing top hats and elaborate sideburns hoisting giant steins, but quickly realized that "wazzzaaaaaah!" had the potential to be a year-round slogan. And so it was.

Poor wassail, an ancient and noble winter drink now banished to the plastic mugs of Ren Faire jesters and church Christmas potluck-goers. Lorraine Ottens, whose Drinkwell Softers show up at farmers' markets and a few local grocery stores, decided to update the drink's image by introducing a seasonal, naturally fermented, probiotic-lush, and nonalcoholic wassail ($5 plus $1 bottle deposit).

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Gently fizzy, the wassail soda has the sweetness of apple cider ― Ottens said she's added a little persimmon juice in there, too ― and a potent hit of allspice and cloves. The soda is then sparkled up through lactic fermentation using whey from Straus Yogurt. Show up at your friends' door with a bottle of the wassail, caroling "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," and pray they'll let you in afterward, or do what SFoodie did and make cocktails: A slug of dark rum, a squirt of lime, and a finger of wassail turns out to have potent health-giving effects indeed. Wazzzzahhhh!

Drinkwell Sodas will have the wassail at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Sat., Dec. 18, and Thu., Dec. 23 (a special appearance).

Previous days:
Dec. 1: Fruitcake from Schubert's Bakery
Dec. 2: Vegan Peppermint Joe-Joes
Dec. 3: Coconut snowball from Sweet Adeline
Dec. 6: Cranberry linzer verrine from Citizen Cake
Dec. 7: Panettone from Dianda's
Dec. 8: Clarine's Florentines
Dec. 9: Boccalone's truffled mortadella
Dec. 10: Plum pudding from John Campbell's
Dec. 13: Buche de Noel from Les Elements
Dec. 14: Thorough Bread's gibassier
Dec. 15: Charles Chocolates' edible box


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Jonathan Kauffman

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