Bourbon Harvest Hot Apple Cider: This fall cocktail can be made quickly and kept warm in a crock pot for serving at a party (it’s an easy recipe to double or triple) or in a thermos or travel mug for your on-the-go fall activities. It’s the perfect warm and cozy cocktail!
Can we just all agree that the absolute best thing to do in the fall is to curl up under a blanket with a hot beverage?
The place for this doesn’t matter: on the couch, in bed, in front of a fire pit or fireplace, on a hayride, in a chair on the front porch.
And the beverage doesn’t matter either: tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or cider. As long as it’s hot, right?
That’s kind of the point though, isn’t it? The fall just evokes these cozy feelings.
Hot apple cider doesn’t tend to be my go-to drink in the fall, like coffee and lattes are. But whenever I do drink it, I’m always kicking myself for not drinking it more often.
Fall in New England Inspiration
When I was visiting my best friend in Vermont a few years back, she introduced me to the BEST hot apple cider. I mean, this was over 10 years ago now so that cider left a pretty big impression!
She took me to Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, VT. It’s the kind of place that gives you all the fall feels. Cider donuts, maple everything, local jams and honeys.
PLUS! Free samples of basically everything in the farm store including their hot and freshly pressed apple cider. This was TOTALLY my kind of place!
Can you imagine how difficult it is to leave a place like that without a bag of hot cider donuts and a jug of fresh cider?
I’m not actually the best person to answer that because frankly, I walked out the door with my arms full of goodies. Ha!
In any event, it’s the hot apple cider from Cold Hollow that sent me into a tizzy about making a harvest apple cider at home. And yeah, it took me 10 years to get to this point but: details, details.
And as soon as the idea for a hot apple cider cocktail was suggested to me a few weeks back, I knew this bourbon harvest apple cider needed to become reality. It’s like some people just know me so well!
How to Make Hot Apple Cider
It’s actually incredibly easy to make hot apple cider. I mean, you just heat the cider in a saucepan or crock pot! But, if you want a super cozy hot harvest cider, you’re going to want to add a few ingredients.
Ingredients for Bourbon Harvest Apple Cider
Let’s start with some fruit. We added sliced apples and oranges. The apples were there to eek out some extra apple flavor and for garnish. The oranges, for a bit of zippy citrus flavor that balances so nicely with the tartness of the apples.
Cinnamon is a must! Can you even create a fall-inspired drink without cinnamon??
Cinnamon sticks work best since they are a bit more potent than ground cinnamon and the give off a tremendous amount of flavor when they’re steeped in a hot liquid.
Ground nutmeg and whole cloves are nice to add but aren’t completely necessary. While I’m not a huge fan of nutmeg flavor, it’s sometimes needed as a background flavor to help round out the cinnamon flavor. We we added some here.
The cloves are a natural pairing with oranges and they added a bit of earthiness to the cider. I truly loved the hint of flavor they added! You could use ground cloves here but like the cinnamon sticks, the whole cloves add extra flavor without saturating the drink with clove flavor.
Plus, those little cloves are just so pretty dancing around the top of the cider when you serve it!
The bourbon feels like a luxury ingredient here. I didn’t use expensive bourbon by any means but the flavor of even a basic bourbon added to this hot apple cider recipe was just incredible! It was caramel-y and woodsy, and the warm bite at the end of a sip was exactly what this cider called for.
You don’t have to add the bourbon because the cider on its own is completely delicious. But the bourbon really made this spiked hot apple cider into a mature fall cocktail.
The last piece of the puzzle for this apple cider cocktail is a sugared rim on the glasses. This small step kicks the presentation of this cocktail up a notch and it adds just a bit of needed sweetness to the cocktail.
Overall, we LOVED this bourbon cider! And let me tell you, if you’re one to take your kids trick or treating with a Contigo filled with wine, you may just want to consider this bourbon apple cider instead. Just sayin’.
This Bourbon Hot Apple Cider Would Be Excellent Served With:
- maple glazed rustic apple tart
- pumpkin roll with candied pecans and cinnamon cream cheese filling
- classic cake donuts
- fall harvest kale salad
- apple cider caramel crumb bars
- cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins
- warm kale and quinoa salad with maple dijon grilled chicken
- apple fritters with spiced cider glaze
- roasted acorn squash, pear, and kale salad
For the cider:
- 6 cups apple cider
- 1 large granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 small oranges, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
- 6 whole cloves, plus extra for serving
- 3 cinnamon sticks, plus extra for serving
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar or turbinado sugar
- 6 oz bourbon, divided
- In a large saucepan, combine the apple cider, half of the apple slices, half of the orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg. Bring the cider to a simmer over medium heat and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain the cider through a mesh strainer into heat-safe pitcher.
- Right before serving, spread the sugar out in an even layer on a small-ish plate (the plate needs to be just larger than the diameter of your heat-safe serving glasses). Run an orange slice around the rim of your serving glasses and dip the glasses in the sugar to create a sugar rim. You may need to coax the sugar onto the glass a little if it's spread too thinly on the plate.
- Divide the bourbon evenly between your glasses (1 ½ oz in each glass) and then pour the hot cider into the glasses. Drop a few cloves and a cinnamon stick into each glass (both for flavor and effect - do not eat them). Add an apple slice and orange slice to each glass too, if desired. Serve while the cider is still hot.
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