The Drink Makes The Party: Apple Cider Recipe
I’m kicking the holiday season off with my favorite Hot Apple Cider Recipe. Why? Read on…
We’re standing on the Welcome Mat, knees shaking with cold and excitement. We can almost identify the song twinkling from the stereo inside. Through the window we see the shadows of our friends flickering on the wall. When the door finally opens, light, laughter and music swirls us into the warmth.
We obey the “Come-In Come-Ins”. There’s a round of hugs and of cheeks offered to lips.
Predictably and yet magically, there are drinks in our hands. We’re laughing and chattering and having too much fun to notice that our own shadows have become one with the others on the wall.
OH! How we love going to parties! There is so much about them that I enjoy, the people, the music, the food (oh my! the food!). But mostly it’s the little touches. It’s those things that the hosts have done to make us more comfortable or to make things more festive or to make everything sparkle.
Different people add different personal touches to a party. It could be a carefully selected soundtrack for the evening, lots of fresh flowers, lovely moisturizers and breath-fresheners in the bathroom, an abundance of easy-to-eat finger food, plenty of surfaces for people to set down their drinks, handmade cookie place cards for a seated dinner, a silly little get-to-know-each-other-game. Everyone has their own way of making their party a unique, fun and welcoming event.
While there are a lot of little touches that I add to our parties, my favorite is a focus on the drinks. Drinks are usually the first thing you offer to guests when they arrive so having something special to serve lets everyone know from the beginning that it’s going to be a magical evening.
The other reason that I like to make a big deal about the drinks is because of how I feel when I’m a guest. Having something in my hand, something to raise to my mouth, gives me something to do if I don’t yet feel comfortable or don’t really know the other guests. If the drink in my hand is pretty or unique in some way, it gives me something on which to compliment the host or something to spark a conversation with a stranger, “What a great idea for a drink! It’s delicious. Don’t you just love sipping on a blah blah blah?”
When it comes to Thanksgiving, and the holiday season generally, I often put my mark on the event with a warm drink. How nice is it to come in from the cold and be welcomed with something to really take the chill off?
For the next couple of weeks I’ll be featuring some Winter Warmers. To get you into the Thanksgiving mood, there are two kinds of hot cider. Then I’ll be turning to some hostess gift and Christmas gift ideas that are warm-drink-related. As we get closer to Christmas I’ll be spiking hot chocolates and coffees with spices, ice cream and booze. But never fear, for New Year’s I’ll be laying off the heat and embracing the razz-a-ma-tazz of fizz and ice cold celebration.
So come along with me for some drinking fun that will add all kinds of special sparkle to your holiday party.
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The first recipe I have for you is a little twist on the classic Hot Apple Cider. This one uses fresh rosemary. Rosemary, with its evergreen scent, makes me want to usher in wintertime and the holiday season like nothing else. Paired with apple, it’s a unique but comforting winter warmer.
An Update: Several days after posting this The Hubs and I decide to make up another batch to sip on in the evening. But we were in the mood for a pre-dinner G&T as well. So we decided to make the apple cider with rosemary as usual but to use gin instead of whisky. The result was even better than the original whisky version. A perfect holiday pre-dinner drink!
- 3 large sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped – stems and all
- 4 cups of apple juice (I prefer juice over cider because cider separates if it accidentally reaches a boil. Juice is a bit less finicky)
- 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 4 ounces of whiskey (optional)
- More sprigs of rosemary to garnish if desired
- Combine the chopped rosemary and apple juice in a medium saucepan. Partially cover the pot of juice and warm it to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10- 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the warm juice to see if it has infused with enough rosemary flavor to your taste. If not, let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Put a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl. Strain the juice through the sieve. Rinse out the sauce pan and return the rosemary scented cider to the pot. Re-warm it over medium heat just to a simmer.
- Put the brown sugar into a soup bowl. Moisten the edge of each of four mugs with a bit of water or juice. Dip the moistened rim in the sugar, turning it a bit to coat the rim evenly. Divide the whiskey (if using) among the mugs. Fill the mugs with the hot cider. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Now tell me, my party-loving reader, what special touches do you add to your parties? I’d also love to hear about parties you’ve been to where the hosts have done something that made everything zing.
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