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With Bonfire Night this week, many of us will be braving the autumnal squalls and enjoying a few fireworks, and what better way to stay warm than a steaming mug of mulled cider?

The tradition of mulling drinks with spices dates back hundreds of years, and there are an infinite number of different recipes. We have selected our favourite way to mull a good-quality, medium dry cider. The addition of sloe gin adds richness and the wonderful berry flavour works brilliantly with the tart apple base. It is quite a stiff drink, though, and if you have kids present you may want to omit the gin, or separately mull some good pressed apple juice and crushed blackcurrants.

 Mulled Cider

1 litre quality, medium-dry cider
100ml sloe gin, preferably home made
5 cloves
2 star anise
2 allspice berries
1 vanilla pod
2 sticks cinnamon
1 orange, sliced
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Runny honey, to taste

mulled-cider-300x200

Place all ingredients except the sloe gin into a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for five minutes or so. Add the sloe gin and simmer for a further two or three minutes. Taste, and add some honey as required – this is really just to bring everything together rather than give you a ver sweet finished product. Ladle into warmed mugs or glasses ensuring you have some of the fruit and spices as a garnish for each drink. You could also add a grating of nutmeg to finish.