Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spiked apple cider

As I was saying in yesterday's post, while my mom worked relentlessly on getting my Christmas tree decorated I was working as relentlessly on drinking a whole pot of hot apple cider -I figured it would help ease both the pain and the boredom. I don't remember exactly when I became such a fan of hot, alcoholic drinks, but I suspect it has something to do with going to the Christmas open air market in Bressanone, Italy. Nowadays going to this quaint mountain markets has become such a fad that people jam up every possible highway and road leading to the Dolomites, but back then, in the early nineties, only locals and people who had vacation homes in the area knew about them.

It was probably 1993 or so and my family and I were staying at our place in the Dolomites for a long weekend -December 7 is a holiday in Milano because it's Saint Ambrose, Milano's patron saint; Demeber 8 is a holiday in Italy because it's the Immaculate Conception. That long weekend, every year, was also the first weekend when the ski lifts would open, which is mainly why we were in the Dolomites to begin with. But I digress. The point is that that year we decided to go check out one of these Christmas markets in Bressanone. I was 13 and was entering that age when you can't possibly go anywhere without a) your Walkman b) your friends. So we had my very good friend Giovanna in tow and, as soon as we got to the open air market, the two of us started walking a few feet behind my parents, pretending not to know them, pretending to be there by ourselves. I know, I know. But, hey, we were 13. And while my mom and dad were checking out beautiful hand made, hand carved ornaments and trinkets, Giovanna and I followed the sweet scent of cinnamon and cloves wafting through the cold December air. It led us to an old man stirring a giant pot, a cauldron really, filled with vin brule', mulled wine. It was instant love. We each bought a cup and slowly sipped on it as the snow started to fall. It was the best drink we had ever had.

That's what I was thinking about the other day, as I sipped on my warm apple cider. I was thinking about Christmas markets, snow and hot mulled wine. It made me homesick and at the same time it made me feel better. But then again, maybe that was just the Vicodin kicking in.


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
10 black peppercorns
8 whole allspice berries
5 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cups apple cider
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (2-inch) lemon rind strips
1 cup brandy

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and next 4 ingredients (through cinnamon sticks); cook 1 minute. Add cider and next 4 ingredients (through lemon rind); bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in applejack. Strain; discard solids.


  1. Your Christmas tree is gorgeous! Great cider recipe, I'm printing it for my mom since she's always got cider in the fridge!

  2. Spiked cider--you are my kinda chick!

  3. I had mulled wine for the first time on Thanksgiving. I really loved it! The spiced cider sounds great as well! :D

  4. ciao chiara, quei biscotti sono buoni?
    li facciamo?




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