This simple spiced apple cider recipe with bourbon and a clove-studded clementine pomander makes for the perfect holiday cocktail.
Holiday cooking can be so involved, with cakes, cookies, pie, and all that, that it’s nice to have an easy-yet-perfect spiced apple cider recipe on deck. And if said recipe fills your house with the best smells of the season, even better.
The Best Spiced Apple Cider: Classic Flavors
My spiced apple cider recipe has all the usual suspects: plenty of bourbon, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, and whole star anise. I also like to throw in a festive clementine pomander, probably because sticky clove-scented fingers are wonderful, but also because I like the way it bobs in the cider and infuses everything with that spot on festive flavor. Sliced clementines and lemons add visual appeal and a hint of tang,
Whether you drink bourbon or not, this cider is excellent. For the non-drinkers and kids out there, I keep my spiced cider alcohol-free with the bourbon out next to the pot, so guests can add their own.
I recommend simmering the cider for at least 20 minutes before serving, but for best results, simmer for an hour or more. Your house will smell wonderful as the cider bubbles away!
More Christmas Treats
Besides mugs of warm cider, I’m partial to this fancy-ish hot chocolate recipe with peppermint schnapps. For more Christmas recipe inspiration, including cookies, other sweets, and savory dinner ideas, check out the holiday recipe index here.
- 40 or so whole cloves
- 2 clementines , 1 whole and 1 thinly sliced
- 2 quarts apple cider
- 1 small apple , thinly sliced horizontally with seeds removed
- 2 lemons , 1 thinly sliced plus 2 tablespoons juice from the other
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 8 allspice berries
- 2 star anise
First, make your clementine pomander. Use a sharp knife to poke holes every half inch or so in 6 vertical strips. Pierce each hole with a whole clove.
Pour cider into a large sauce pan, add pomander, clementine and lemon slices, apple slices, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and star anise. Warm over medium heat until cider is steamy, then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 20 minutes.
To serve, ladle about 3/4 cup cider into mugs. Fish citrus and apple slices out of cider pot for garnish. If desired, top off with 1 1/2 ounces bourbon for each 3/4 cup cider.