Brrrrr, it’s freezing! At least it is around MoM HQ. So this week we thought we’d make something to warm you up, a Hot Cider Punch enhanced with the magic of Rumbullion! If that won’t keep out the cold, then you need a new coat.

Last week we showed you how to make the perfect mulled wine. It really couldn’t be easier, just start with a reasonable bottle of red, add sugar and some Ableforth’s Christmas Mulled Cup, heat and Bob’s your uncle, the best mulled wine you’ve ever tasted.

Get some hot cider inside yer

Now, it’s the turn of the Hot Cider Punch. Only this time, it does require a little bit of work, but I promise you, it’s worth it. It was my wife, who is American, who introduced me to the joys of hot cider. It’s something of a holiday season tradition over there. Beginning with Halloween and taking in Thanksgiving and going up until Christmas, in the colder states there will always be hot cider on offer. 

But it’s not exactly what it sounds like because in the US cider means apple juice, if you want proper cider you have to ask for hard cider. The recipe my wife makes involves taking lots of apple juice, good quality cloudy stuff, and mulling it gently with lots of spices, fruit juice, etc, and then adding alcohol in the form of bourbon or rum at the end. She also adds butter which sounds a bit mad but it gives the cider a lovely creamy quality. 

What’s more fun though, is to use proper honest-to-god English cider. The stuff that contains real booze and then spike it at the end for added merriment. The big question is what cider to use. It’s sad but true that cider in this country is often a pale imitation of the real thing. To be legally called cider you only need to have 35% apple content, the rest can be sugar, water and flavourings. And that 35% can be concentrate made from apples grown anywhere. You’ll be very lucky if your cider contains any English fruit. Of the widely available brands, Old Rosie from Weston’s, Dunkertons and Orchard Pig are all good. If you’re lucky enough to live in a cider-producing part of the country like the West Country or Kent, visit your local ciderist. And please avoid flavoured ciders which are essentially alcopops.

Hot Cider Punch

How to make a Hot Cider Punch

The recipe below is an approximation. It will depend on how sweet your cider is. The most important thing is don’t boil it or it will become bitter and lose alcohol. Then you have to decide whether to spike or not. With the temperature dropping below zero in Kent at the moment, we’re definitely going with the spiking option. The two best choices are bourbon or rum. To enhance the sheer spiciness of it all, I’m using a Rumbullion! Made only using quality rum and natural ingredients, it’s one of the best spiced rums on the market.

It’s time to get mulling. Here’s what you need:

3 litres of good quality cider
150ml (or more) Rumbullion!
Juice of 3 lemons
Juice of 3 oranges
1 tablespoon of orange zest
½ tablespoon of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of sugar
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 knob of butter (optional)

Put all the ingredients except the rum and the butter in a large saucepan. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Do not boil. Taste, it might need some more sugar. Leave to infuse for as long as you can. Gently reheat. Add the butter and the whisky. Serve in Toddy glasses garnished with an apple slice and cinnamon stick to use as a stirrer.