The scent of sweet apple cider mulled with cinnamon and other warm spices is a sure sign of fall and the winter holiday season. And while you can buy apple cider any time of year, it just seems appropriate to drink more of it after the apple harvest. Apple cider takes well to fun flavor additions and preparations — here are five ways to personalize and make it more interesting!
Make Sure You Buy Apple Cider, Not Apple Juice
While the labeling of apple cider and apple juice is inconsistent, finding an actual apple cider is important since it has a more earthy, full taste. If you can't find something labeled apple cider, what you really want to look for is an unfiltered apple juice, not the clear stuff that has been refined and is sweeter.
Once you have apple cider in hand, here are five things you can add to change it up a bit!
Instead of citrus juice, add apple cider to red, white, or even sparkling wine to make a fall or winter sangria. Add in some pieces of fresh apple, which will soak in the delicious blend but also give some fresh flavor to the wine cocktail.
- Get a recipe: Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria
2. Other Juices
Sweet apple cider can pair well with a tart juice like cranberry — add the juice to your favorite warm spiced cider or serve it on ice for a refreshing winter juice blend.
- Get a recipe: Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider
A shot of bourbon, cognac, dark rum, or even apple-based Calvados turns apple cider into an easy cocktail. The sweetness of apple cider means you need to add less sugar or simple syrup to make a balanced cocktail, while at the same giving your cocktail lighter, more fruity flavors for those who shy away from too-strong drinks.
- Get recipes: Simple Cocktails with Fresh Apple Cider
Infusing apple cider with tea and tea blends is an elegant, more adult way to enjoy hot apple cider. Steep cider with chai spices and add milk or top with whipped cream to turn it into a richer, creamier warm beverage.
- Get a recipe: Chai Spiced Apple Cider
Lastly, you can jazz up apple cider simply by mulling it with spices. Think beyond the usual cinnamon stick and cloves though — sweet star anise, fruity pink peppercorns, cardamom pods, and spicy ginger are just a few items from the spice cupboard that you can break out to make an untraditional spiced apple cider.