No drink says Christmas quite like a warm cup of mulled spiked cider, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. We partnered with David and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson of 12 Bottle Bar to create this twist on the tradition.
When it’s cold outside, there are few drinks more warming and comforting than a steaming mug of mulled spiked apple cider. Of the few beverages that supersede the traditional combination of apple and spices is the marriage of apples, spices, and booze. There’re no two ways about it. When you need to warm up, a little spike in your sipper is the way to go.
One of our favorite holiday tipples is a classic hot gin punch. Today, most people don’t consider gin outside of the warmer months, but in Dickens’ day, hot gin was just the thing to keep Jack Frost at bay. To complement our cider base, we chose sloe gin, a classic English liqueur made with a gin base and the juice of sloe berries. The English go mad for sloe gin around the holidays and a large number of them have their own personal recipe for a homemade version.
The bottled versions are superb, however, so no need to rush out and pick a basket of sloes. Depending on whose you buy, it may be more on the sweet, syrupy side or lighter and less sugary. Adjust your recipe accordingly to the sweetness you prefer. The flavor is very reminiscent of currants or plums with a subtle boozy flavor that doesn’t carry the usual juniper notes of straight gin. As liqueurs also tend to contain approximately half the amount of alcohol by volume as a straight spirit, flavors meld more easily and drinks spiked with them provide a nice, modest buzz.
To round out our recipe, we infused our apple juice with chamomile tea, adding greater levels of depth and warmth, then finished it off with brown sugar syrup and a dash of lemon juice.
The drink follows the traditional ingredients of a punch—water, sugar, alcohol, citrus, and spice—and can easily be scaled to serve as a punch for a group. To serve this way, add all ingredients to a large pot, such as a Le Creuset French Oven, and keep warm on the stovetop over a low simmer.
Any heat-proof mug will do; we chose a traditional Aspen cup and saucer for our presentation. As you’ll see from our photos, this is a drink to complement all the moods and settings of the holiday—from decorating the tree to wrapping presents to chilling by the fire with some great Christmas tunes.