Downtown Denton merchants have measured their ingredients. They’ve whipped up steamy batches and sampled the goods in preparation for Wassail Weekend.

The annual contest to see which business serves up the tastiest hot spiced cider starts at the Denton Holiday Lighting Festival at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. The contest continues on Saturday.

Tasters take note: Some locations will only participate on one day of Wassail Weekend. If you’re serious about evaluating all the merchants’ wassail, make a note of the one-day-only contestants.

What the wassail?

Wassail sounds like a term from Ye Olde English — because it is. Wassail is hot, spiced cider. Traditionally, the drink has a lively taste. Apple cider flavored with citrus (oranges and lemons) and cinnamon makes for a slightly peppery finish, and on a cold day, wassail can bring on some coziness.

Wassail Weekend could be considered wassail-light?

Wassail Weekend is a longstanding family event, so don’t expect the wassail to be its traditional spiked self. In years past, some merchants have enhanced versions of their official wassail, with each cup warmed by brandy, bourbon or other spirits. But as you circle the Square, understand you’ll be getting a nonalcoholic cuppa.

Make note of creativity

We’ve been surprised at just how different the Denton wassail taste from one storefront to the next. One business gave its wassail a shot of sweetness by dropping red hots — the cinnamon candies — to each serving. Others amp up the orange flavor in a recipe that uses apple cider as the foundation. Some older recipes bump up the richness with — wait for it — eggs (this version results in a nice frothy head).

How to vote

Denton Main Street Association, the coordinator of Wassail Weekend, has made it easy to vote for your favorite spiced cider.

You can vote on the Wassail Weekend website at www.dentonmainstreet.org/wassail- weekend. The voting button will activate at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6.

If you don’t care to vote on the event website, vote on Facebook and Instagram by posting a photo of your favorite wassail, and be sure to tag your favorite with its hashtag (see the list of wassail stops for the hashtag).

To find out what businesses are participating, get a list at the Wassail Weekend information table at the Denton Welcome Center, 111 W. Hickory St. Use our list here, but note that the list isn’t final and is subject to change until Wassail Weekend begins.

To be counted, votes have to be made by 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.

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