It’s that time of year again when a person just can’t have too many hot beverage options. Coffee first thing. A latte later with a friend. Rooibos in the afternoon. Earl Grey after dinner. To this repertoire of refreshment I’ve recently added a mug of sweet spiced cider before bed.
There are many varieties of cider. From the mulled wine you get in the streets of Munich to the sugary instant mixes you got at a gift exchange 5 years ago—each claims to impart that cozy wintery spirit we all crave. Just don’t make the mistake I did at 16 when I downed 5 mugs of the stuff, not able to tell it was alcoholic.
But there’s another kind, neither spiked with booze nor full of artificial, crystalized who-knows-what. This one has all the best of simplicity and perfect balance of spices. And how could it not? It’s the one I grew up on. Are not our tastebuds conditioned to think that our traditions taste best?
This “recipe,” for I hesitate to call it that, is virtually foolproof. You get to decide what brand of juice to use and how much of each spice to add. It come together in under 5 minutes, and is the perfect thing to have on hand for unexpected guests.
It’s a little hard for me to feel cozy when it looks more dreary March outside than crisp December. But with a cup of this cider in my hands, I can go almost anywhere. One sip and I’m transported home.
And in just two weeks, a train will take me where this humble cup of cheer cannot.
Sheri’s Spiced Cider
makes enough for a few evenings, or for a party of 10-12 people
1 can frozen apple juice, reconstituted with water as per directions (or use a liter/quart of your favorite locally-made fresh stuff)
1 can frozen cranberry juice, reconstituted with water as per directions
5 cinnamon sticks
2 whole allspice berries
a few curls of the zest of lemons and oranges (or use some slices of the fruit itself)
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a gentle simmer, reduce heat and continue to simmer for 39 minutes. Serve warm, or chill and heat up by mugful for 2 minutes in the microwave.