Do you hear that? That’s the sound of cheer in the air! With the holidays right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get into the spirit of the season with hot drinks and fun holiday flavors. Nothing shouts “holiday merriment” more than wrapping your hand around a mug of warm cider straight from the stove.
Apple cider is good cold, but stick it in a crockpot with a few spices and you have an irresistible drink that also makes your house smell better than any holiday candle. Hot apple cider is perfect for gatherings with friends, family dinners, Christmas parties… pretty much anywhere with a large group!
How to: Make the Best Hot Apple Cider
Can I just heat up apple cider? Yes, but take it a step further - your guests will thank you! The secret to hot apple cider is in the spices. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Toast your spices whole before simmering. Most recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Toasting whole spices help release their flavor and aroma, which means your cider will be filled with spicy goodness, and your kitchen will smell amazing. Just a few moments over the heat does the trick.
- Add your apple cider to the pot on top of the spices and warm for 1 hour. Don’t simmer or boil - or you’ll end up with less cider. Warming the cider without bubbles allows it to infuse with your spices. Stir regularly.
- Once your cider is done infusing, you can strain it. Particulate on top of the cider during the cooking process is totally normal. You can skim it off or stir to reincorporate - there are a lot of flavors there!
Don't Forget the Garnish!
Don’t make the mistake of simmering hot apple cider with fruit. Why? The fruit doesn’t add a ton of flavor, but even worse the color of the fruit fades and floats to the bottom. So, make sure to garnish the cider at the end so that the fruit keeps its color and floats on top! Some garnish ideas:
- Sliced orange adds a citrus note.
- Whole cranberries add no flavor at all, but just look pretty!
- Other ideas: Try rosemary sprigs, diced apple, or sliced lemon.