Mulled wine is now pretty synonymous with Christmas, I’m sure you’d agree; but why do we keep our mulling to the confines of slightly ropey red wine and for such a short time every year? Warming and adding spices to your drinks is something I think we should do throughout winter, and after last year’s mulled beer recipe it seemed time to create one for an easy mulled cider.
We do cider and all things apple-related pretty well in this country, but I think we can all agree that until very recently cider has a bit of a reputation issue, mainly involving fizzy, sugary versions in a black and gold can. But in today’s love of all things ‘artisan’, ‘small-batch’ and ‘hand crafted’, cider is making a comeback and it seems to be hitting more and more places this Christmas as an alternative to bad mulled wine.
After a bit of searching, ogling, pausing to drink some mulled gin, thinking and – really throwing myself on the sacrificial alter here – testing, I realised that it’s a mixture of apples, ginger, cinnamon and brandy that makes for the ideal level of warming and boozy. Although having made it a few times now, I can confirm that amaretto also works well too.
So this winter – because mulling is not just for Christmas – get a large pan on the hob and pick up some cider. It doesn’t matter if you are having a party, some people over for dinner or a quiet night in wrapping presents; this mulled cider will make you feel like it is going to be a very merry Christmas indeed.
Easy mulled cider
There are only so many ways to make an easy mulled cider in the world, but as far as I know, this one is original to The Usual Saucepans. It makes enough for eight glasses, but it’s easy to scale up (although be warned, it’s deceptively strong, especially if you’re liberal with your brandy measures…).
1 litre of cider
500ml ginger beer
2 cinnamon sticks
1 handful of cloves
3 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 tbsp honey
‘a splash’ of brandy (probably about 40ml)
Take your orange, poke some holes in it with a skewer and stud it with cloves. Get a large, heavy-bottomed pan on the hob and on a low heat.
Put your orange, cinnamon stick and ginger into the pan along with the honey. Pour the cider and ginger beer in on top and stir gently, the honey should all dissolve into the liquid. Pop the lid on and let it heat gently. After about 10 minutes it should be heated through and gently steaming. Add in the brandy, stir a little and then allow to heat for another minute or so.
Serve in a glass with an orange slice and a cinnamon stick.