As the annual tradition of celebrating treason approaches, the weather’s definitely taken a nosedive in Manchester and the boiler’s on the blink in the office. The perfect excuse to spend copious amounts of time making hot drinks, and once we’ve had our fill of tea (hard to believe I know, but just occasionally we need a change) we started to look further afield.
We toyed with hot Vimto (a drink that seems to be almost unique to Manchester – it is literally just Vimto warmed up) but we found we wanted something with a little more punch. Mulled drinks have a long and fortified tradition in English drinking lore and in the wake of bonfire night; it has to be a good old mulled cider.
We delved back into the Lord Berlue archives for some traditional mulled cider recipes but we didn’t find them altogether appealing – let’s just say tastes have changed. So we stuck with our modern inclinations and went for a “classic” (read: familiar tasting) recipe that we were reasonably confident wouldn’t poison anyone.
“Measurements” are a bit of a loose concept here; you should definitely adjust everything to your taste. You can add a shot of anything that takes your fancy and adjust your level of sweetener accordingly, maybe throw in some apple juice, or just mull that (minus the sweetener) for a safe option if you’re going to be handling fireworks – intoxication and explosives definitely don’t mix.
I started with a very middle of the range cider and found it quite tart, even with what I considered to be a lot of sweetener, but then I’ve got a pretty sweet tooth, so it’s probably a safe starting point. You can always sweeten – tartening is harder (and not even a proper word). I struck upon the genius idea of making toffee apple cider by chucking a leftover toffee in there, but it didn’t make a blind bit of difference to the taste and I didn’t have any more to hand to pursue the experiment. Arm yourself with a good amount of toffee if you want to try this and please report back on the results. Otherwise, give the following a go:
- 1L cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 cloves
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tbsp grated orange zest
- Honey or brown sugar to taste (I used about 2tsp of each)
- Tip everything into a big pot and bring to a gentle boil (withhold some of the sweetener if you’re worried about over sweetening).
- Simmer gently for 15-30 minutes or until your patience elapses
- Taste and adjust for sweetness
- Serve in mugs as you dance around the bonfire and try to remember what year (or even what century) Guy Fawkes was caught with his hands in the gunpowder pot.