The Ultimate Warm Christmas Drink: Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider
One of our favorite Christmas drinks! With cranberry juice, apple cider, a clove-studded orange, cinnamon, lemon peel, and rum if you like, this wassail warms you from your fuzzy Santa socks to your rosy nose.
4cupscranberry juice1 quart or approx. 1 liter
4cupsapple cider1 quart or approx. 1 liter
3lemon peelsfrom 1 medium lemon; just the peel and not the pith [which can cause bitterness]
33-inch cinnamon sticks
1 to 2tablespoonshoneyoptional to taste; can substitute Grade A pure maple syrup or granulated sugar
spiritsif desired; sometimes I add 1/2 cup red wine for just a bit of extra oomph or a good splash of rum to the mug to spike it up a bit
Stud the orange with cloves
Use a toothpick to poke holes in the orange and then stuck the sharp end of the cloves into the orange. Set aside.
To make in a Crock Pot
Add cranberry juice, apple cider, lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, and the clove-studded orange to a 3-quart or larger Crock Pot. Cook on low for about three hours, until warmed through but never boiling. Switch the Crock Pot to the warm setting, and it's ready to serve when you're ready to drink!
To make on your stovetop
Set a heavy 3-quart or larger pot over the stove. Add cranberry juice, cider, lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, and the clove-studded orange. Turn the heat to medium and heat until just below a simmer. Don't let it boil or the cider will separate - it'll still taste good but will look cloudy. Turn the heat to low and cover. Lightly simmer for about 30 minutes.
Garnish and serve
Ladle the cider into mugs. Garnish if desired.
2021 recipe update: I've tweaked this recipe to include a clove-studded orange (now a staple in all of my mulled cider drinks!) and, instead of slices of citrus, we've got just the lemon peel. I have learned over time that citrus slices = a bitter wassail because of the pith in sliced citrus. I also find that the honey is a matter of taste; without the bitter note from the citrus slices, I find that it's not needed. But if you like a sweeter cider, by all means stir some in!