Yuletide Spirits

In this season for tradition when many follow the holiday ritual of warm wine that’s savored across Europe—the vin chaud, glühwein, or gløgg—one might think about cultivating a taste for mulled cider as well. There is something about the aromatic waft of apple, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves that evokes a warming Dickensian Christmas scene. From her recently released seasonal tome, Nigella Christmas, the high priestess of the palate, Nigella Lawson, suggests this heart- (and hand-) warming punch.

Mellow and fruity and, despite the rum sploshed in, mild to the taste and all too drinkable on these frost laden nights.


* 1 quart apple cider
* ¼ cup dark rum
* 1 cup apple cinnamon tea, made up from an herbal teabag
* ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
* 2 clementines
* 4 whole cloves
* 1 stick cinnamon
* 2 fresh bay leaves, preferably Turkish
* 2 cardamom pods, bruised
* 1 x 1-inch piece unpeeled ginger



Pour the cider, rum, and herbal tea into a wide saucepan, add the sugar and pour over a low heat to mull.

Halve the clementines, stick a clove into each half, and add them to the pan.

Break the cinnamon sticks in half, and tip into the pan. Add the bay leaves, bruised cardamom pods and whole piece of ginger, and let everything infuse as the pan comes almost to the boil.

Once the pan is near to boiling, turn down the heat, so that it just keeps warm, and ladle into heatproof glasses with handles to serve.

To make this into a non-alcoholic warmer, replace the cider and rum with 1 quart of apple juice and ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. You probably won’t need the sugar, but taste when warm to see if you want a little and add as you like.

Yield: Makes 1 ¼ quarts, enough for about 6 servings


Make ahead tip:

Make the cider, strain and cool. Remove the cloves at this point otherwise the flavor will become too overpowering as the drink sits. Cover and keep in a cool, dark place for up to 2 days until needed. When ready to serve, return the mulled cider to the saucepan and reheat gently without boiling.


NOTE: Dear Readers, you may be just the least bit befuddled by my choice of a visual reminiscent of a holiday tinged in the style of the elegantly grand rubble of Grey Gardens over the more classic Dickensian Christmas scene mulled cider evokes, but it was my way of leading you to a bit of yuletide heaven here on earth. Beautifully captured by fellow blogger Indecorous Taste, these enchanting ruins resplendent in their finest holiday raiment are to be found at Longwood Gardens, the farmhouse outside Wilmington, Delaware formerly owned by Pierre Dupont of the infamous Dupont family. Do take a look at these captivating images that bring a quiet, though disheveled, dignity to this season of Christmas.





~ by eaesthete on 12/03/09.

4 Responses to “Yuletide Spirits”

  1. […] more from the original source: Yuletide Spirits « The Errant Æsthete By admin | category: apple juice | tags: apple juice, beer, cup-freshly, little-strange, […]

  2. Thank you for this recipe – recently I was browsing through my favourite culinary shop and there was a pot of mulled cider steeping. The fragrance is pure comfort.

    Jack Frost has not visited us in Toronto yet, but we can hear him howling through the windows and doors – soon enough.

  3. Thanks! This recipe sounds great. I must, however, point out that when made according to recipe, most of the alcohol will evaporate during preparation, leaving nought but that great rum taste behind. Alcohol’s low boiling point means that not very much (Christmas?) spirit will remain for the alcohol buds of a cocktail swilling savant. Using a lid may help a little, but I would recommend preparing the cider without the rum and then adding a shot of high quality dark rum (Gosling’s or Myers’s) at serving time to spread a little more Christmas cheer.

    –The Utah Mixologist

    • Thank you to the wise and venerable mixologist. Dear readers take note: to spike up your Christmas cheer this season, add the rum after preparing the cider.

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