If you live in fear of the cold the way that I do, here are two reasons to embrace it: mulled cider and wine. The scent of cider or wine mingling with cinnamon, cloves, citrus, and other wintry spices is enough to warm up even the coldest days. And it’s a cinch to make: Toss everything on a back burner or in the slow cooker and give it a loving stir now and then.
The other great thing about mulled drinks is that they’re super adaptable. Think of the following recipes as a guide on how to make mulled cider and wine, adjusting as you see fit. Like your wine with an extra kick? Add a few peppercorns or fresh ginger. Party time? Add a splash of brandy or rum to the cider. Serving kids? Just use cider, and skip the booze all together.
Whether it’s a cocktail or a mocktail, this may be your new favorite way to get toasty—and toasted—this time of year.
How to Make Mulled Cider or Mulled Wine: Tips & Tricks
Before we get to specific recipes, here are a few tips and tricks to help you customize your drink to your taste, and also to help make them easier. Because we love easy.
- Use your slow cooker: To do this, place all of the ingredients into the slow cooker insert and cook on high for at least 30 minutes, then switch to warm mode. Mulled drinks can be kept on warm (or low) for a few hours—if they last that long!
- Contain the spices: Wrap spices in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie tightly with kitchen twine or string. In a pinch, a coffee filter will work. This makes it easy to ladle mugfuls without having to pick anything out—or getting a clove stuck in your teeth.
- Get creative: The recipes below call for certain spice combinations, but mulled drinks are adaptable. Get creative! Some additional spice and flavoring ideas to get you started: allspice berries, mace, cardamom, peppercorns, oranges, fresh herbs, fresh ginger, and, of course, booze!
- Spike it right: If you want to spike your cider, try an apple friendly liquor like bourbon, brandy, rum, or Applejack. You can even up the ante on mulled wine by adding a splash of brandy, cherry brandy, or bourbon.
- Keep it at a simmer: Avoid boiling your drink so that you don’t overcook the spices or burn off the alcohol.
- Sweeten the pot: Many recipes call for granulated sugar, but maple syrup is a good non-refined substitute.
- Cider to wine conversion: 1 half gallon of cider equals about 2 1/2 bottles of wine. Useful!
Cocktail: Mulled Wine
Last year, our editor, Stacie, wrote an awesome recipe with some helpful tips on how to make mulled wine. Mulled wine always feels like a warm winter hug, and her version is one I could wrap myself in all season long. Stacie’s inclusion of clementines, vanilla, and cherry brandy elevates it to something truly special, perfect for a holiday or New Year’s celebration.
Mocktail: Mulled Cider
If you’re starting to feel a little holiday frenzied (who’s not??), sipping on a warm, aromatic mug of cider is one of my favorite ways to slow down. This Wassail Cocktail (a fancy English name for hot mulled cider) at Cookie + Kate is a good base recipe, and simply omit the bourbon to make it a mocktail. Or don’t, depending on how many in-laws are coming over. Even better, this recipe can easily be made in the slow cooker. So, kick back, relax, and sip in the season.