Hot drinks, in a mug, are one of the best things on the planet. I am sure you have noticed that pumpkin spiced drinks, apple cider and seasonal beers are everywhere. I love all of those things. Fall is my season! Yes, I am one of "those" people. My pumpkin decorations came out the first week of September.
Okay, back to the drinks. I typically do not care for sweet drinks, so I don't usually give them much thought. However, I love apple cider. It's not too sweet. It's seasonal. It means fall has arrived. We used to juice apples in an old fashioned apple smasher at my Great Aunt's house. We would load up apples, pull this giant lever and it would smash the apples to a pulp. All of the juice would pour into a bucket and my Aunt would add some sugar and seasonings to it. Voila, it was done. You could drink it right then or wait until she simmered it for a while. I would have ladled it out of the bucket with my hands if she had let me.
I often think of the food and drink memories from my childhood. It wasn't just a dish or a great drink, it was an experience. It's a memory and I can taste it to this day. I am always trying to think of ways to incorporate things like this into large gatherings. Since fall is my favorite, I try to do more things in the fall. I love getting together around a fire. Who doesn't? I love going to apple orchards and pumpkin patches. I love having seasonal drinks.
I recently tried some Salted Caramel Crown Royal (Someone was saving it for a special occasion and I happened to be in attendance.) It was amazing. I started thinking, this would be perfect with hot apple cider. I searched everywhere for the Salted Caramel Crown Royal only to find out it comes out closer to Christmas. That will have to wait until later. I was able to find Caramel Vodka. I also grabbed some Cinnamon Whiskey. You know, the one that rhymes with Tire Wall. Both of these worked amazingly well in the cider and both were equally delicious. Both my husband and I preferred the cinnamon whiskey over the caramel vodka. That is only because, neither of us love sweet drinks. The cinnamon whiskey did not add to the sweetness, so it suited us a little better.
I made homemade apple cider. I followed the Homemade Apple Cider recipe created by Makinze at Delish.com (Recipe is linked here and posted below). Once the cider was made, I added 1.5 ounces of Caramel Vodka to a coffee mug and then filled the mug with the hot apple cider. I used the same measurements for the Cinnamon Whiskey.
Give these a try and let me know what you think! Also, I highly advise that you drink responsibly and do not drive after trying these delicious drinks!
Homemade Apple Cider
10 large apples, quartered 1/2 orange, halved 4 cinnamon sticks 1 tsp. cloves 1 tsp. whole allspice 1 whole nutmeg 1/2 c. packed brown sugar DIRECTIONS
In a large stockpot over medium heat, add apples, oranges, spices, and brown sugar. Cover with water by at least 2”. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 2 hours.
Remove orange halves, then use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash apples. Return to a simmer and let simmer uncovered for 1 hour more.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids with a wooden spoon to squeeze all juices out. Discard solids.
Serve apple cider warm.
Photo Credits: Tosha Scroggin