Autumn is likely to be a beautiful, favorite part of the year no matter where you live. Sometimes though, it gets cold enough that you would rather admire the changing leaves through the window, curled up in a big chair by a crackling fireplace, steaming beverage in hand. Or maybe you want to welcome a cheerful group of friends and family to a warm dinner with an introductory spiced offering. Here are some suggestions for your sipping pleasure…
Forage Your Pantry and Make Ahead
Fortunately, delicious, soothing versions of ciders, hot chocolates, and teas can easily be made from very few ingredients, many of which you can improvise from you have on hand, simmer to a delicious blend, and adapt variations later for winter holidays. Most warm drinks, especially ciders, intensify in flavor the longer they simmer (but account for reduction- don’t let your whole pot boil away) and can be reheated with little trouble.
Free Your Space (and Time!)
If you need all the elements on your stove, or all the pots in your cabinet, or want your blend to be easily accessible to guests outside of the kitchen, use a slow cooker for 2-3 hours on low. It is self-contained, requires little attention, and most newer models have keep-warm settings that, when covered, will retain more liquid than an uncovered pot on a typical gas stove. Which is ideal, as people will want seconds.
Spruce It Ip Your Style
You don’t have to bind yourself to a particular juice, chocolate, or spice- experiment with your preferred combinations. For a rustic look, serve with the simmered cinnamon sticks or pieces of fruit from the recipe. Otherwise, you can strain and reheat if needed, or tie your spices in cheesecloth. Garnishes of fruit, caramel sauce, or whipped cream are always welcome, but should be done right at serving time.
We have linked some tasty spiced ciders and teas, which may inspire your own personal variations, such as adding citrus zests, different spices, and slices of your favorite fruits (or maybe a little bourbon, port, or other liquor at the beginning, maybe in partial replacement of water or juice):
Hot Spiced Apple-Pear Cider
Mixed Fruit Cider
Spiced Lemon Apple Cider
Hot Cranberry Cider
Hot Spiced Tea
Orange Spiced Chai