Winter libations: Spiced apple cider

Dscn2537Apple cider to warm you up!
Photo by Natasha Li Pickowicz

The snow whirling outside our windows inspired us to brew up one of our favorite December drinks – spiced apple cider. We recently whipped up a batch to enjoy with our guests at Michelle Marek’s pastry workshop last week, but it’s just as easy to make at home, too.

Most warmed cider recipes called for unfiltered apple juice (the cloudy stuff), but we prefer to use a Lebanese brand of apple nectar stead. It’s much sweeter, and more intensely apple. If you use unfiltered apple juice, we recommend adding 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar to this recipe.

To make a huge vat, the proportions are as fellows:

8 cups brewed Chai or black tea
16 cups apple nectar (alternately: 8 cups nectar + 8 cups juice; substitute water until desired sweetness)
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
20 cloves
6 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
20 peppercorns
12 cardamom pods
4 tablespoons orange zest (we also like grapefruit zest)

Bring to a boil, and simmer for at least one hour. Strain through cheesecloth, reheat, and enjoy!

(An acceptable substitute/to kick it up several notches: replace tea and nectar with wine, add 1/2 cup brandy, bring to low simmer, and serve immediately. Nice kick in the pants before bedtime!)

Posted December 12, 2010