Hot Apple Cider

Picture it: peak fall. You’re enjoying apples every way you possibly can: as apple butter on toast, peanut butter scooped with apple slices for a midday snack, a piece of classic American apple pie at dessert. And at night, when the winds blow, you warm yourself by making this hot apple cider recipe, which doubles as aromatherapy. 

To intensify the flavor of fresh apple cider, Sean Rembold of Ingas Bar in Brooklyn recommends reducing store-bought cider on the stovetop. Doing so concentrates the cider’s sweetness, meaning there’s no need for maple syrup or brown sugar, which could mask the fruity apple flavor. His easy recipe includes a handful of mulling spices and a whole vanilla bean; warmed slowly in the cider, they infuse into the drink and perfume the air (fair warning: it’ll make your house smell incredible). If you’d rather skip the pricey vanilla bean, swap in 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract, but add it after straining the mulled cider.

When ready to serve, pour the hot cider through a fine mesh strainer, then divide among mugs. The nonalcoholic cider is lovely, but feel free to pour in a tipple for a little extra warmth. Garnish with an orange slice, a few cranberries, a star anise pod, or a fresh cinnamon stick. Or, if you’re serving this at a party, keep the strained cider warm in a slow cooker turned to its lowest setting (make it a warm-drinks buffet with a crock of hot chocolate too) and set out mugs and garnishes for guests.

Ingredients

12 Servings

1

gallon apple cider, preferably fresh (the darker the better)

1

Tbsp. allspice berries

1

tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

4

whole cloves

3

3″ cinnamon sticks

1

vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Brandy, Calvados, bourbon, or spiced rum (optional)

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