The thought of cooler temperatures and eventual snowfall are daunting, scary facts that we all (CA and FL excluded) have to reckon with. But, it’s not all bad news. With dark, cloudy, chilly days comes a lot of warm, comfort food. It’s the perfect time of year to bundle up and throw some chili in the crockpot and finally binge watch Master of None. Don’t worry if you put on a little weight, this is sweatpants weather and you won’t need to fit into that speedini for at least six months.
One of the best ways to wash down all those carbs is with a nice mug of hot cider. If you’re sitting on your couch in adult footy pajamas watching Netflix, you’re going to want that cider hot and with an added boozy kick. Bartenders are just like us and we asked them what they add to their hot cider to stay cozy on cold evenings.
“My favorite spirit to mix with hot cider is a nice aged rum. Zaya or Plantation integrate really well to make a delicious fall cocktail.”
“Gin is great for hot cider cocktails. The fresh flavor profile of gin goes great with the sweetness of apple cider creating a nice crisp cocktail similar to the first bite of an apple. Gin is underutilized in hot cocktails since most bartenders go with a bourbon or whiskey. You’re always winning when your ginning.”
“I prefer Cognac. Due to its typical caramel, nut and vanilla flavors, it gives hot cider a caramel apple finish.”
“Bourbon is great with cider because it’s made in smoked barrels, which pairs well with the sweet cider.”
“My favorite spirit to mix with hot cider are rye whisky, rum and mezcal. Rye whisky gives it a nice slow, spicy burn, while rum goes very well with spices like cloves and cinnamon. Mezcal on the other hand pairs very well with sweet and spicy cider and gives a smoky flavor to the cocktail.”
“In a hot cider, I like to mix in a bit of Fernet-Branca to give it the right amount of funk.”
“I think apple cider screams for more apple. My favorite is Applejack — an apple-flavored liquor historically made using freeze distillation, which was when the fall harvest would be left outside to freeze and distill during the winter. It’s now made by blending apple brandy with other spirits to create a funky apple liquor that’s aged like a bourbon.”
“My favorite liquor to mix in with cider, hot or cold, is a high-grade whiskey. Though, a quality cider cocktail is truly dependent on the use of a fresh cider, which can bring out the flavors in any high-grade whiskey. When you have a really fresh apple cider there is no better alcohol than whiskey to complement the sweetness. “
“I’ve yet to try Peach Brandy or Madeira wine in cocktails, but I can only imagine that those to ancient spirits would drink beautifully in a Cider cocktail. Add some pomegranate and cinnamon to the mix and you’re golden.”
“Tuaca would be my preferred spirit with hot cider, then topped with whipped cream and a graham cracker-crusted rim. It tastes like hot apple pie, which is one of my favorite desserts. It’s a perfect after-dinner drink, especially during the cold winter months.”
“For me, the earthy, spiced, sweet layers from DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky goes really well with hot apple cider. The touch of peat and fantastic barley malt from this scotch always brightens all the flavor in my cocktails. My last hot cider concoction includes DEWAR’S 12, homemade cinnamon syrup, lemon, hotel apple cider and orange essence.”
“I love adding Rakomelo into hot cider. A classic Greek spirit, the honey cinnamon liquor is traditionally served warm in Greece, and adds all the right components to balance out the flavors of hot cider for a perfect warm fall cocktail.”