This steaming aromatic cider is a wonderful addition to any holiday party and is a perfect year-round warm-me-up. Its fragrant goodness will permeate your home with seasonal cheer. I guarantee your guests will ask for seconds-and the recipe!
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
8 cups fresh apple cider
a few cinnamon sticks
several bay leaves
1-2 branches fresh rosemary
splash vanilla extract
1 bottle chardonnay
Place sugar in a tight pile in the centre of a large saucepot – large enough to hold the cider and the wine. Pour the water around it and begin heating the works over high heat. Don’t stir or shake the pot! The sugar mixture will quickly form a syrup and come to a boil. Continue simmering as the water boils away. When the syrup begins to brown around the edges, swirl it gently until the resulting caramel turns a beautiful golden brown.
Working quickly, and carefully, add the cider to shock the caramel and prevent it from further browning. It will spatter, so be careful. Bring entire mixture to a simmer.
Pierce the orange skin with the cloves, forming an even pattern, then add to the cider. Add cinnamon, bay leaves, rosemary and vanilla. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes or so, until the cider reduces by a third.
Add the wine and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Serve immediately in a festive mug. Garnish each serving with a fresh rosemary sprig and a cinnamon stick.
Mulled cider is great with a shot of your favourite booze, Rum, whiskey and even liqueurs like Grand Marnier of Pernod work well, as does my favourite – a generous splash of port wine.