Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

For years, my family has taken an annual trip to a farm on the East end of Long Island. I close my eyes: the October air is crisp on my face. Corn mazes, hay rides, and apple trees await plucking from all sides. Children laugh with their siblings as they run though the pumpkin patch. Mom and Dad pull their youngest in a wagon and search for a pumpkin without flaw for their doorstep. The warm, inviting scent of roasted corn in butter, turkey legs and apple cider fill the air. This is my happy place.

After an hour or so of brisk fall fun, all I can think about is sinking my teeth into a roasted ear of corn and sipping on a cup of hot cider. There’s no better feeling than warming the chill in your bones with a hot, soothing drink. I adapted this version of a mulled cider with the addition of my favorite white wine and a little brandy. I imagine this to be just the ticket for pre-dinner on Thanksgiving Day. It’s smooth and warm all the way down. The Riesling and apple cider is mulled with rich cardamom and allspice. A “mulled” drink is one that has been heated with a combination of spices (typically cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg in addition to a fruit like apple or orange peel). Heated low and slow over your burner for an hour or two, all those beautiful spices infuse themselves into the drink. Of course, you can still mull the apple cider as follows without the alcohol for a kid-friendly version. Served hot or cold, this cocktail is a guaranteed Autumn winner! Garnish with a single thin apple slice and cinnamon stick (you’ll impress all your friends). Happy drink making!

Serves: 6 — Hands on time: 10-15 minutes — Cook time: 1 – 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 (750 ml) bottle of Riesling (crisp, dry, sweet: perfect! I like Clean Slate Riesling from Germany at under $10)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 Tablespoon good maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup wildflower honey
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 8 whole cardamom pods
  • 1/2 cup apple brandy (I used Calvados)
  • Apple slices and cinnamon sticks for garnish
  1. In a large pot, combine Riesling, apple cider, maple and honey. Add ginger slices, allspice and cardamom to the pot. Cover and cook on low-heat for 3 hours or medium heat for 1 hour (I think low and slow works best, if you have the time. If using medium-high heat, make sure you do not boil).
  2. Stir in brandy. Pour into 6 cocktail glasses (each should hold about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Serve hot for my preference! If not serving hot, refrigerate and try serving on the rocks. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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