Traditional Apple Cider Drinks for the Holidays

Nothing says the holidays more than the sweet spicy smell of apple cider simmering on the stove as friends and relatives gather together in celebration. The heavenly odor permeates throughout the house, tantalizingly tickling the noses of all around. Mulled cider is one of those special drinks that everyone can enjoy through a variety of senses; sight, smell, sensation, and taste. Hot apple cider toddies give a warmth that goes beyond the temperature of the toddy itself. Finding the right liquor to add is key and subjective to individual tastes. An apple cider punch adds zing to the occasion and can be made to look rather festive. It is one kind of apple cider beverage that is good for the summer holidays too. Just add slices of seasonal fruits to it. The following are recipes for different kinds of traditional apple cider beverages.

Different spices and juices can be added to a basic recipe to add variety and excitement to each batch. It’s up to how adventurous the person making the steaming hot cider wants to be.

* Recipe 1: Basic recipe for mulled cider

– Two quarts apple cider
– cup brown sugar or honey (or regular sugar)
– One teaspoon whole allspice
– One teaspoon whole cloves
– 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– One stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces
– Several more whole sticks of cinnamon

Simmer all the ingredients, except for the whole sticks of cinnamon, in a heavy pot on the stove until steam rises from the cider. Let sit several minutes and strain the sediment and spices out. Serve with a cinnamon stick in each mug of steaming mulled cider. You can also put the spices in a bag of cheesecloth before adding to the apple cider to avoid straining them out at the end. Variations include adding one or more of the following ingredients to the cider mix:

– cup orange or cranberry juice to add a fresh and different taste
– Dash of ginger
– Dash of chili pepper sauce
– Tablespoon of Red Hots a red cinnamon candy

You can come up with your own additions to make a truly unique beverage.

* Recipe 2: Carmel cream apple cider:

– One cup heavy cream
– cup brown sugar
– Quart and a half of apple cider
– one cup water

Over medium heat bring the cream and brown sugar to a low boil, then add the apple cider and water. Raise the heat a bit and bring the mixture to a point of steaming. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream with a dash of nutmeg on top.

* Recipe 3: Hot apple cider toddy; per cup made individually

– Two ounces of whiskey, tequila, vodka, spiced rum, or apple brandy.
– One teaspoon sugar or honey
– One teaspoon allspice in a cheesecloth bag
– Whole stick of cinnamon (optional)
– Lemon wedges or cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)
– Hot apple cider

Coat the bottom of the toddy glass or mug with the sugar or honey, add the liquor, and pour on the hot apple cider. Use the lemon or cinnamon stick for a bit of extra taste and garnish. When heating up the apple cider, you can simmer it with a cinnamon stick and/or the allspice bag as an option. When using tequila or vodka, add a bit of orange or cranberry juice along with a touch of triple sec liqueur.

* Recipe #4: Apple cider punch which can be a year-round party beverage:

– Two gallons apple cider
– One 6 ounce can each of frozen concentrated cranberry juice and orange juice
– One cup of packed brown sugar, add more to taste
– Two liter container of Ginger Ale
– Orange and apple slices for garnish.
– A cheesecloth bag with teaspoon whole allspice, broken cinnamon stick, teaspoon whole cloves.
– Dash nutmeg
– Liquor or fruity wine to taste (optional)

Simmer the apple cider, sugar, and spices together, remove the spice bag, and chill the cider. Mix in the ginger ale and concentrated fruit juices. Include the alcohol if using. Make sure no children drink the punch with the alcohol added. Serve in a punch bowl or glass pitcher. Add orange and apple slices for garnish. You can add different sliced fruits for colorful garnishes. In the summer months add berries, peaches, or any other summer fruit.

Whatever apple cider beverage you have on your menu, it is sure to be a hit. Since it is a versatile drink that blends well with many flavors, you can experiment with small batches to find the right blend or mix for you. If you visit the area orchards to taste test their apple cider, you will be surprised at the diversity of flavors at each place. Use different brands for that subtle difference in taste.

Apple cider being a relatively seasonal drink, which makes it perfect for the fall and winter holidays. Make up that special batch of your favorite apple cider recipe and share it with your friends and family.


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