It's October, a month forever in heated combat with May as my favorite month of the year. Temperatures are cool but not freezing, the trees haven't lost all of their leaves yet, the days aren’t too short, the NBA starts back up, football's going strong, the only baseball that matters is being played, and then we get to Halloween, one of the three best holidays of the year. In celebration, I've prepared what is, in the northeastern US at least, a very common October drink: mulled, spiked apple cider.
A few quick notes about the liquors involved: the nice thing about aged rum is that it’s not too pricey. A twelve-year, which is probably overkill, will likely only set you back about 35 bucks. If that’s still too steep, you could definitely use a nice, inexpensive rum like Plantation Barbados 5-year here. As for the Calvados, you have two cost-saving possibilities. One is to ditch it entirely and just double the rum. The other is to buy a bottle of Laird’s Applejack for fourteen bucks and use that!
- 1 oz. Aged Rum (I recommend Ron Abuelo 12 Year)
- 1 oz. Calvados (I recommend Chateau du Breuil VSOP)
- 4 oz. Apple Cider
- Dash Angostura Bitters
- Dash Orange Bitters (I recommend Fee Brothers)
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 3 Whole Cloves
- 1/4 tsp Coarsely Grated Nutmeg
- 1 Star Anise
Cut a square of folded cheesecloth about four inches by four inches and securely wrap the mulling spices within, except the cinnamon stick. Tie it up in a little package with some string and drop it into a pot, along with the cinnamon stick. Add cider and bitters and bring just to a simmer, then drop to the lowest your stove top can go. Let cider infuse for 15 minutes or more, then remove and discard spice bag. Add rum and calvados, stir, and pour into a mug or tempered glass. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.
You can safely double this recipe on the liquid side without needing to change the amount of spices, but if you scale up past three servings, start adding more spices to balance. Don’t feel like bundling up the mulling spices yourself? You can buy teabags with spices in them at most grocery stores, or on Amazon.com.
This article is a modified and enhanced version of a post that ran on my nightly cocktail blog, DrinkShouts.