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Now serving hot wassail and healthy competition

Steamy mulled spiced cider is the signature drink of Denton the first weekend of December for Wassail Weekend. 

More than 50 businesses and storefronts around downtown Denton will serve their own twist on the classic winter drink for thousands of visitors Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2. 

The tradition is about as Denton as things get, said Glen Farris, president of the Denton Main Street Association, the group that organizes Wassail Weekend.

"It’s a Denton tradition, and the best part of this is people who are new to Denton are confused by it and what wassail is, so it’s one of those quirky things you get to explain to a first-time Dentonite — and everybody loves it," Farris said. "There’s nothing not to like about it."

For the first time, wassail tasters will pick their favorites by casting ballots digitally, either by using an online form on the Denton Main Street website or by posting on social media. Each participating business has a designated hashtag that will be used to track votes. Organizers are anticipating almost 2,000 people will vote after tastings Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. 

Last year, the Discover Denton Welcome Center, I heart Denton and Dark Ages Tattoo Studio were the fan favorites. All three are participating again this year. 

Every shop has a different twist. In years past, Lone Star Attitude Burger Co. has dropped Hot Tamales cinnamon candies into its mixture. For Seth Morgan, owner and head brewer at Denton County Brewing Co., a 1400s song about wassailing inspired his secret ingredient. 

"We looked up the tradition of how it started, what it's supposed to mean and why, and we've incorporated that into our wassail," Morgan said. "When people drink it, [our secret ingredient] will be very obvious, but it was a traditional part of wassailing in the 1400s. I've never had it in wassail before."

Tastings will begin Friday at 5:30 p.m., and run until 8 p.m. or supplies run out. Can't make it out that evening? Saturday samples are available from 1 to 4 p.m. Some wassail makers will offer their drinks both Friday and Saturday; some will participate one day only. For more information and a list of wassail stops, visit Denton Main Street's website

Winners will be announced Saturday night.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.