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AFK had a tradition of always being open on holidays. This policy was something I stated because I was one of those people on holidays who had nowhere to go. This year, due to AFK no longer having a physical location, we won’t be open. This single fact filled me with more unexpected sadness than most of the closing process. I always worked on holidays and enjoyed being there for others. This year, as we head into the winter months, I thought I’d share the recipe that became AFK tradition for holiday drinks. This way, a little bit of that can live on in your homes.

The AFK Wassail Tradition

If you stopped by one most holiday nights, you possibly tried the AFK Wassel. It was the hot cider drink that I kept in a hot hold by the bar. Customers have asked me for years to explain this drink. I struggled as this magical drink was more of an art form and expression than a recipe. I will do my best to break it down. I included a more friendly and less ad-hoc version at the end for people who don’t like mixing by taste.

Before we start, we need to understand the basic construction of Wassail before diving into more. Traditionally it’s just hot mulled cider. Mulled, meaning it has some if not all of the following spices: Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. There are plenty of optional things one can do after this. But that is essentially a Wassail. What we called Wassail at the Tavern looks like an abomination in comparison. So hold on to your fancy holiday hats!

The Dark Art of Making AFK Wassail

A warning before we start, this will feel like a very old school bartending guide recipe. To mangle my favorite quote from a drink guide from mid-1800s: “As it takes a genius to mix this, I don’t wish to insult you, I will not list further instructions.”  I will, however, will do my best.

This list is enormous! 

  • Cider concentrate
  • Hard Cider
  • Mead
  • Red Wine
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Dark Rum
  • Spiced Rum
  • Cinnamon or flavored Whiskey
  • Gin
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Whole apples

The essential Spice List:

  • Cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • Nutmeg

Now to the art of the AFK Wassail! I use a crockpot, but this can be made on a stove. First, as you may have guessed, I don’t water down the Cider concentrate.  Instead, I use hard cider, mead, and red wine to thin out the concentrate in place of the water. This process makes it sweet without having to add in any sugar. The Ration is about four parts hard cider, two parts mead, one part wine, one part pineapple juice, one part orange juice.  I slice up the apples and add them in before the liquid to not overfill the vessel. Add the cinnamon sticks and as many spices as your comfortable with (you can add more later), then let it heat for an hour or two (Don’t boil it) and make sure it’s covered.

Now here comes the important part! Stir it, then Taste it; if it’s too sweet, cut it down with some hot water. If it’s not sweet enough, add some sugar. Next comes the part where we add hard liquor. I usually start with the dark rum. Kraken is lovely for this as it imparts a vanilla taste to the drink. After I have that correct taste, I start with the spiced rum; this can reinforce many flavors already in the Wassail, so be careful. I splash the Whiskey in. I, for years, used Fireball till they changed their recipe; now I use pecan or apple whiskey. Lastly, about 1 oz cheap gin mostly for tradition, but the juniper flavor will complement things nicely.

Let all of this sit for a little longer. Then impress your friends with this VERY boozy Wassail.

Instant Wassail

So if you read that and immediately had a panic attack at how imprecise it was. First, I’m sorry. Second, this next recipe is for you.

Perhaps you’re spending the holiday months alone or limiting contact this year. And an entire crockpot of warm alcohol isn’t your thing or might be too tempting. You’d like to have a cup of the stuff to enjoy under a blanket. So this is my instant Wassail. Much fewer items to pick up, and overall pretty easy.

Instant Wassail (Irish Coffee glass, or ~8.5oz mug)

  • A packet of hot Apple Cider Mix 
  • 1 oz holiday spiced mead or holiday spiced wine
  • 1 oz spiced rum
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Hot water

In your mug or glass, pour in the mead/wine rum and Apple cider mix. Stir with the cinnamon stick to get as much of the cider mix dissolved as you can. Then pour in hot water while stirring. Careful not to burn yourself! Let cool enough to drink, and you’re good to go.

AFK had a tradition of always being open on holidays. This policy was something I stated because I was one of those people on holidays who had nowhere to go. This year, due to AFK no longer having a physical location, we won’t be open. This single fact filled me with more unexpected sadness than most of the closing process. I always worked on holidays and enjoyed being there for others. This year, as we head into the winter months, I thought I’d share the recipe that became AFK tradition for holiday drinks. This way, a little bit of that can live on in your homes.

The AFK Wassail Tradition

If you stopped by one most holiday nights, you possibly tried the AFK Wassel. It was the hot cider drink that I kept in a hot hold by the bar. Customers have asked me for years to explain this drink. I struggled as this magical drink was more of an art form and expression than a recipe. I will do my best to break it down. I included a more friendly and less ad-hoc version at the end for people who don’t like mixing by taste.

Before we start, we need to understand the basic construction of Wassail before diving into more. Traditionally it’s just hot mulled cider. Mulled, meaning it has some if not all of the following spices: Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. There are plenty of optional things one can do after this. But that is essentially a Wassail. What we called Wassail at the Tavern looks like an abomination in comparison. So hold on to your fancy holiday hats!

The Dark Art of Making AFK Wassail

A warning before we start, this will feel like a very old school bartending guide recipe. To mangle my favorite quote from a guide from mid-1800s: “As it takes a genius to mix this, I don’t wish to insult you, I will not list further instructions.”  I will, however, will do my best.

This list is enormous! 

  • Cider concentrate
  • Hard Cider
  • Mead
  • Red Wine
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Dark Rum
  • Spiced Rum
  • Cinnamon or flavored Whiskey
  • Gin
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Whole apples

The essential Spice List:

  • Cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • Nutmeg

Now to the art of the AFK Wassail! I use a crockpot, but this can be made on a stove. First, as you may have guessed, I don’t water down the Cider concentrate.  Instead, I use hard cider, mead, and red wine to thin out the concentrate in place of the water. This process makes it sweet without having to add in any sugar. The Ration is about four parts hard cider, two parts mead, one part wine, one part pineapple juice, one part orange juice.  I slice up the apples and add them in before the liquid to not overfill the vessel. Add the cinnamon sticks and as many spices as your comfortable with (you can add more later), then let it heat for an hour or two (Don’t boil it) and make sure it’s covered.

Now here comes the important part! Stir it, then Taste it; if it’s too sweet, cut it down with some hot water. If it’s not sweet enough, add some sugar. Next comes the part where we add hard liquor. I usually start with the dark rum. Kraken is lovely for this as it imparts a vanilla taste to the drink. After I have that correct taste, I start with the spiced rum; this can reinforce many flavors already in the Wassail, so be careful. I splash the Whiskey in. I, for years, used Fireball till they changed their recipe; now I use pecan or apple whiskey. Lastly, about 1 oz cheap gin mostly for tradition, but the juniper flavor will complement things nicely.

Let all of this sit for a little longer. Then impress your friends with this VERY boozy Wassail.

Instant Wassail

So if you read that and immediately had a panic attack at how imprecise it was. First, I’m sorry. Second, this next recipe is for you.

Perhaps you’re spending the holiday months alone or limiting contact this year. And an entire crockpot of warm alcohol isn’t your thing or might be too tempting. You’d like to have a cup of the stuff to enjoy under a blanket. So this is my instant Wassail. Much fewer items to pick up, and overall pretty easy.

Instant Wassail (Irish Coffee glass, or ~8.5oz mug)

  • A packet of hot Apple Cider Mix 
  • 1 oz holiday spiced mead or holiday spiced wine
  • 1 oz spiced rum
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Hot water

In your mug or glass, pour in the mead/wine rum and Apple cider mix. Stir with the cinnamon stick to get as much of the cider mix dissolved as you can. Then pour in hot water while stirring. Careful not to burn yourself! Let cool enough to drink, and you’re good to go.

Here we are again.

Our lease is ending for those of you who don’t know, and you can find out more about that by clicking here. If you’re up to date, read on, friend! But seriously if you aren’t up to date click here.

Tuesday night was the last night of indoor service. It was a strange slow-paced night in comparison to the tidal wave of Saturday. It, too, had lots of emotional goodbyes, distance hugs, and elbow high fives. We were so happy to get to see so many of you.

We wanted to run till the 28th to give people time to say goodbye. However, the shutdown changes our plans. In a way, it makes it more simple for those of us left here. Considering the fear of another shutdown is why we left our lease. One more would have killed us forever. We could see this coming; we’re not blind. I know we made the right call.

So what’s the plan? Right now, we still have stock to sell. So at least until Saturday, we’ll be running food and drink for delivery and to-go. As for outdoor seating, we have five covered seats as the windstorm took half our covers. While we’re running, we will allow people to be on the deck. We don’t assume this will change our plans much. However, our hours will be reduced going forward as we had a much narrower business level in the shutdown. We’ll pin that down ad-hoc as we’re willing to be surprised this time. But planning for the worst is how we survived this long.

So friends, if you’re looking for the last burger or a Firebat, this is the week to get it done. We have new to-go vessels for drinks, so grab a six-pack of Onys or Mana potions. If you missed your chance to come to say goodbye, now is your chance. We will be resetting things for photos shortly so that the inside will look “classic” for a couple of days. Join us and stand in the rain on the deck, or grab some to-go. We hope to see you.

However, if we don’t see enough people, we will plan on closing it up early and being done after this week. It’s not where we wanted to be. But during covid no matter how hard you work to be safe, the ultimate control of your fate is in the hands of others and not yourself as a business owner…hell as anyone who has to work in this. So it’s something we’ve become accustomed to at this point.

-Kayla

Did you know I have a Patreon where you can get AFK Drink recipes? Check it out!

Become a Patron!

This is our first “At home” theme menu! In honor of Rhythm of War coming out today. This has been made possible by the fine people on my Patreon. Come on over and check it out! Become a Patron!

A letter: The Wines of Roshar

From: A World Hopper
To: My home The AFK
Author’s Notes: My friends at AFK, this letter contains a short Vorin descriptor I found of the various Wines of Roshar. I’ve added my notes for their approximate recreation within the Tavern. It should be stressed to the reader: The people of Roshar seem to be confused about what wine is, also what chicken is, but that’s an entirely different letter I will send another day.

 

 

Violet  – The strongest of all the Roshar wines. With a sandalwood smell, a strong liquor taste.

Author’s Notes: The recipe I’ve sent recreated this with huckleberry, Aquavit, soda water, and special sandalwood oil. I’m quite proud of myself on this version; it could fool most who drink it.
Violet/Purple (Wine Glass large with ice)
  • 1.5 oz Huckleberry Syrup
  • 2 oz Taffel Aquavit
  • 1 drop sandalwood extract
  • Fill Topo Chico
This is a semi layered drink. You’ll want to add the Huckleberry Syrup first before the ice. Drop a small amount of the sandalwood extract on the ice, pour over your choice of Aquavit over the top. We used Bluewater Aquavit for ours. Then fill with Topo Chico; most soda will do, but if you’re serious, you’ll use the best. And the best is Topo Chico, fight me.

Blue – Complex with lemon and fruit flavors.

Author Notes: This really reminded me of Limoncello, not sure how they made it blue. So we’ve tried to make raspberry, Limoncello, soda, and something a little blue! It ends up coming close enough to perhaps trick one without first-hand experience.
Blue (Martini Glass)
  • 1.5 oz Limoncello
  • 0.5 oz Black Raspberry Liqueur
  • 1.5 Powerade or Blue Sports
Take the Blue Sports drink and Limoncello with ice in a shaker, shake until ice forms on the shaker. Strain into the Martini glass. Layer the black raspberry liqueur by pouring it down the side of the glass.

Sapphire – Made from fermented lavis grain with nutty and honey taste.

Author notes: This one was a sophisticated little devil to get my head around. But I finally ended on Frangelico, Honey Whiskey, and a splash of the good old fashioned Blue Curacao.
Sapphire (Collins Glass /w ice)
  • 1 oz Honey Whiskey
  • 1 oz Frangelico
  • Blue Curacao for color ~ 1oz
  • Fill Topo Chico
Pour in Blue Curacao first.  Add in the Honey Whiskey and Frangelico and fill with the chilled Topo Chico. Stir with a straw lightly for the best visual effect. If you’re not a fan of Whiskey, you can swap out the Honey Whiskey for an unflavored mead or Honey Liquor of your choice.

Red – Flavorful, simple, and smooth.

Author’s Notes: While the bartender part of me was reasonably sure it was a vodka cran, the world hopper in me couldn’t quite bring myself to say that’s what it was. In the end, I settled on the vodka cran, though. It really does work.
Red (Pounder with ice)
  • 2.5 oz vodka
  • Fill Cranberry Juice
Fill a pounder with ice, pour in vodka then add the Cranberry juice. If you’re looking for some fun with this drink, use a flavored vodka. Even vanilla vodka can work with cranberry juice. Muddle some real cranberries for a neat look.

Amber – Spicy and Earthy.

Author’s Notes: Instantly, I was reminded of a reinforced wine upon drinking this. Oaked Chardonnay fortified with a rye whiskey, bourbon, ginger bitters and really emulates this almost entirely.
Amber (Large wine glass)
  • 1.5 oz Rye Whiskey
  • .5 oz Bourbon
  • Oaked Chardonnay fill
  • Buckspice Ginger Bitters (4 drops)
This drink should be served at room temperature or chilled for the best result. If you don’t mind the color being wrong, use your favorite wine here in place of an Oaked Chardonnay. For the original served at AFK version, we used Rock & Rye whiskey and Jim Beam. But at home, I have used Templeton Rye and Burnside Bourbon. As pointed out when we served this at AFK, you can also use a Hopped Mead like Gl. Dansk in place of the wine as well.

Yellow – A fantastic morning drink, refreshing.

Author’s Notes: This one was quite the thinker.  The Alethi, who spoke of it, was quite enamored by its flavor; he called it the pre-dual drink of choice. I found that an excellent handcrafted Gin, muddled lemons, sugar, bitters, and soda really nail the drink’s character. Perhaps I just like Gin, though. I will write to you further about that.
Yellow (Pounder /w ice)
  • 2 oz Gin
  • 5 lemon wedges
  • Sugar to taste (~2 tablespoons)
  • Hibiscus bitters (1 drop)
  • Fill Topo Chico
Add the lemons and sugar to the bottom of the glass with 1 or 2 small pieces of ice. Muddle them furiously. Add the ice, then add the bitters and pour in the Gin. Finish with the Topo Chico and mix with a straw.

Orange – Lacking in strength, suitable even for the clergy.

Author’s Notes: This one was quite an easy one: oranges and a solid spiced mead. Or perhaps a ginger mead. Relatively easy compared to the rest. Quite good, though, not strong enough for me personally.
Orange (Pounder /w light ice)
  • 4 oz spiced mead
  • Orange Juice fill
Mixing these is quite simple: you add them both together in the pounder with ice. We originally used Hidden Legends Spiced mead. But you can use any spiced mead for this mix. It also works well with carrot juice, oddly enough.

Pink – Wakes you up and quite Floral.

Author’s Notes: This one, I am sure, didn’t have a drop of anything resembling alcohol. Roshar’s energy drink is found here. It’s not coffee, but it does the trick. A combination of caffeinated cherry soda, lavender syrup, and a splash of pomegranate get the color and the flavors.
Pink (Pounder /w ice)
  • .5 oz Lavender Syrup
  • .5 oz Pomegranate Syrup
  • Bawls Cherry
Start with the ice and add the syrups. Pour the energy drink over ice. Any clear energy drink should work.

White – Strong.

Author’s Notes: This is clearly a clear whiskey or moonshine. It lacks the most refinement, but it does the job very well.
White (Bucket /w or w/o ice)
  • 2 oz White whiskey
This could be pretty much any white whiskey. Or if you’re feeling fancy, any clear liquor.

The AFK Afterlife Program

Oh hello there. Have you come to the post for some hope? Come with me for some adventure!

What is the AFK Afterlife Program? Simple, it’s a way for us to keep community events alive to keep the spirit of AFK intact and to get to see all of you wonderful people again. The AFK Afterlife is a set of meetups, events, and online content that will keep the flame of AFK going beyond the walls of the Tavern. 

So if that seems cool, read on friend!

Online Theme Menus

I’ll be putting together some online theme menu that you can make at home! Our hope is to bring some of the fun that we had on Saturdays at the Tavern to you. 

AFK Drink Book

Have you always wanted to know how to make some of the drinks (and food) from AFK? Well wait no longer join the AFK Drink Book Patreon and come with me on a wild adventure into the backstories, thoughts, and drinks of the AFK menus as I make a living drink book about the Tavern.  Become a Patron!

Real Life Events

Well, due to Covid we’re not sure when we’ll be doing these. But there are some plans to do a couple Karaoke events in 2021 if everything lets up any. We’ll be looking more into this after the new year. But our hope is to create quite a few events. 

Online Community

Have you joined our Discord yet? Keep up with everyone on the Discord.

Online Content

Well here at AFKTavern.com you can expect some B+ content while we work on all of these other things. I’m hoping we’ll push it to A- thought out the year as I will have much more time to work on it. Things like streams, videos, drinks, and possibly nerd news.

 

I wish this post could be about many other things.

In February, I was composing one talking about the distillery, the new location, plans for the future, and how amazing 2020 had kicked off. I was in the process of looking for a new building to buy and starting to set down plans for the future beyond this location and keeping AFK going for a long, long time.

Regrettably, this is not that post. We put it off due to the stress of last week. But, November the 28th will be the last official day of operation of the Tavern. It’s the end of our 10 year lease, and we really couldn’t in good faith push on. We had the choice of rolling the dice now and bankrupt. Or taking our licks and having a chance to reopen in the future.

In a way, this is a triumph; we did ten years; we’re walking at the end of our lease, not going bankrupt. Physical location aside, our goal starting out was to foster a community and be a community center. We did that! We did that in spades. Cry for what we’re losing but look at what we have! One of the most amazing communities ever. Just wall to wall decent people who helped make this dream of mine reality, a place where I didn’t feel alone. Where so many of you didn’t feel alone anymore, and that is AFK, not a location, not a silly menu…that community is what has and will always be the most important aspect of this entire adventure.

To the people who’ve shown up every week to help us limp across this finish line, thank you. The gaming groups who showed up for the pods, the new friends in the bar, the every-week-take-out people, the folks who always order delivery, and the everyday regulars who never really left us. Seriously thank you. I often thank many of you in person, but it’s worth restating here. It’s been rough running the Tavern like this, and your humor, patience, and attitudes made it so I could get up and do this day after day.

But if you didn’t manage to make it in or grab some take-out, or you still don’t feel comfortable with it. We’re not going to hold in against you. We’re not ourselves right now; AFK is a ghost under the restrictions. It blocked us from all the things that made us…us…so we’re pretty much not ourselves and haven’t been since March.

We still have plans for the next year… they’re just different now. We’ll be posting theme menus you can make yourself, we’ll be running events sans location, and much more. You can check out this link if you’d like the list I’ll be going into in a separate post. There is also a Patreon if you’d like to get some drink recipes out of me. We’ll have fun with this afterlife.

Please don’t go freaking out and pointing fingers. We came to this choice here ourselves. Sure, a lot of things outside our control dragged us down here. But no bake sale, t-shirt, or event would have changed any of this. If you’re into hindsight, check out our Twitter because there has been a lot there. But this post isn’t about that, and to be frank, and I am so done being angry at things I have no control over.

In closing, here at my home, crying while typing… I’m still excited about the future. But even I will have a hole in my heart till I can walk in a place that accepts me again. Thanks for reading. Hopefully, I’ll see you all again.

-Kayla

Happy 10th anniversary. And it’s a bitter sweet moment for us here at AFK. I can’t explain the joy we all feel for making it 10 years, and the pain that having to limp across this marker that was suppose to be a victory lap. This is normally where I tell you about all the joy and hope I have for the future. But I can’t do that. So instead I look back at the past and tell you how proud I am to have run this place for 10 years.

The photo above is from 10 years and 2 months ago. When we had just started out. None of us knew we’d make it this far. It was just a triumph to have a real location. I can tell you it didn’t feel real. I look back at saves of my old blog from back then and I can tell you how excited and scared I was. At some point I’d like to say those emotions changed, but every day I was excited to see what would happen with our weird little bar.

I think back to all the people who walked this path with me over the last 10 years. Even when their adventures diverted I was honored to spend my time with them. I think back to the original crew and how different it is now, but how they shaped the future of AFK. They taught me so much, even if they didn’t intend to. Now I see many of them and they proudly tell me how many years they worked for me. We reminisce about the past, and I couldn’t be prouder of the paths many of them decided to take.  Words can’t really nail down how much I have loved all my staff.

It wasn’t just staff who joined in to this crazy adventure, but customers and regulars. You know who you are. The people proud to tell others they were their on the first night, or the first year, or the first Warrior Night. What menu items were secretly named after them. The first dates, reunions, best friends nights, weddings, baby showers, deck parties, LAN tournaments, and after hours movie watching. The long hours in the parking lot arguing about Marvel comics, world politics, dead languages, the best swords, and so much more. Our customers were and are the best damn people I’ve had the privilege of serving.

Some haven’t gotten to see this day, I hope we’ve done right by them. A moment should be given to those we’ve lost. The wakes, and funerals we’ve hosted throughout the years. The times we’ve cried together…the seats left empty.  Some pains still fresh. Others dull. Never leaving us.

We stand here on the edge of the unknown again, and I’m both scared and excited. So raise you glass, even if you can’t be here with us today. Join us with a mead, a shot, an Ony, beer or cider. Shout cheers, skål, Prost, kampai, another one down the hatch, or FUCK IT and drink to us. Drink to you. Drink to the fallen. Because we’re all the things that have made up AFK and we ARE fucking awesome.

-Kayla

 

THE WONDERFUL SPICE HAS COME. ALL BOW BEFORE THE POWER OF THE SPICE. SPICE SEASON IS HERE.

 

 

Prepare yourself for these drinks: The (Pumpkin) Spice must flow!

The Basic Bitch Sandworm

Hot Cider, Fireball, and pumpkin Spice.

I am the Karenazt Hateratch

Hot coco, rum, and pumpkin spice. Take me to your…

Melange Shot

Coffee Liq, Irish cream, pumpkin mix.

What is in the box? (Drop Shot)

151 & Pumpkin Spice dropped into Gingerbeer!

Water of Life

Stolen Whiskey, Pumpkin Spice, and cream!

 

 

Due to the changes to the Phase 2 as stated by our governor.  We are now allowed to be open at 11 pm one whole extra hour of glorious AFK  is now allowed! It’s a drop of water in a desert…but it’s something.

We also are allowed to sit six people to a table now. So hooray! You can get a 6 person pod.

Not all of our staff can change their schedules on the whims of the government, so our Kitchen hours will still be last call at 9:30 till next week when we remake our schedules.

Spoo

It’s spooky season! So it’s time for Garlic!!!! All these items come with adjustable

Once More With Feeling Fries

is that sound music? a togo box filled to the brim with fries covered in chopped roasted garlic and parm.

Vampire Killer

The Belmonts’ family pizza. red sauce, cheese, roasted garlic, red onions, tomatoes, and bacon

Helsing Penne

Our signature…legendary…pasta wait, it’s time for a REMIX! A special vodka cream sauce tossed with penne chopped roasted garlic with a piece of battle bread