Mulled wine may be the traditional winter warmer at Christmas but there’s another delicious British classic that makes a change from the usual suspects during the colder months. Mulled cider, along with mulled wine and ale, boasts a long history of warming the cockles in Britain but the traditional mulled cider recipe will be somewhat unpalatable to modern tastes, involving a lot of eggs. More up to date versions are lighter and based around adding flavour with the addition of spices. Cloves and cinnamon are essential but a little ginger, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom and vanilla can be nice too. You can vary the choice of spices according to taste and may prefer to sweeten the drink with a little honey or sugar. Pay attention too to the cider you use – good varieties such as real Scrumpy from the West Country give the best results and cheap, fizzy ciders should be avoided.
Simple mulled cider recipe
The addition of sloe gin to this recipe gives it a sweetness that means you may be happy to omit the honey or sugar, but also gives it a rather alcoholic kick. If this is likely to be too strong for you, soften proceedings with a little plain apple juice.
- 1 litre of cider
- 200ml sloe gin
- 6 cloves
- 4 sticks cinnamon
- 1 orange, sliced
- Optional: a little sugar or honey and some apple juice
Add the cider and spices to a saucepan, along with the apple juice if you are using it. Cover and bring to the boil slowly. When the liquid reaches simmering point, turn the heat off and pour in the sloe gin and the sliced oranges. Add the honey or sugar to your taste at this point. Strain through a sieve to serve, straightaway, in heatproof glasses with handles. You can add a cinnamon stick and slice of orange to garnish.
Alternative mulled cider recipe
This version returns a darker, more sophisticated flavour.
- 1 litre cider
- 500ml apple juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 5 peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 cinnamon sticks
Add all the ingredients to a saucepan, cover and heat gently. Remove from the heat after about 15 minutes, without letting it reach boiling point at any time. Serve as before, hot and strained into heatproof glasses.
If you’re having guests for the evening, put the brew into a slow cooker to keep it warm and leave a ladle on the side so people can serve themselves. The sweetness of the cider is best complemented by savoury dishes such as the traditional pies and casseroles of the winter season.