Hot Apple Cider with Rosemary

I’m kicking the holiday season off with my favorite Hot Apple Cider Recipe. Why? Read on…

OH! How we love going to holiday parties! There is so much about them that I enjoy, the people, the music, the food (oh my! the food!). But mostly it’s the little touches. It’s those things that the hosts have done to make us more comfortable or to make things more festive or to make everything sparkle.

Different people add different personal touches to a party. It could be a carefully selected soundtrack for the evening, lots of fresh flowers, lovely moisturizers and breath-fresheners in the bathroom, an abundance of easy-to-eat finger food, plenty of surfaces for people to set down their drinks, handmade cookie place cards for a seated dinner, a silly little get-to-know-each-other-game. Everyone has their own way of making their party a unique, fun and welcoming event.

Greet Guests with a Drink

While there are a lot of little touches that I add to our parties, my favorite is a focus on the drinks. Drinks are usually the first thing you offer to guests when they arrive so having something special to serve lets everyone know from the beginning that it’s going to be a magical evening.

The other reason that I like to make a big deal about the drinks is because of how I feel when I’m a guest. Having something in my hand, something to raise to my mouth, gives me something to do if I don’t yet feel comfortable or don’t really know the other guests. If the drink in my hand is pretty or unique in some way, it gives me something on which to compliment the host or something to spark a conversation with a stranger, “What a great idea for a drink! It’s delicious. Don’t you just love sipping on a blah blah blah?”

When it comes to Thanksgiving, and the holiday season generally, I often put my mark on the event with a warm drink. How nice is it to come in from the cold and be welcomed with something to really take the chill off?

Hot Apple Cider with a Twist

The first recipe I have for you is a little twist on a classic hot apple cider recipe.

I decided to try rosemary in this cider to invoke the smell of evergreen trees, helping me to imagine that winter is here (even when I’m living in Florida and winter most certainly has not arrived!) and that Christmas will be here soon. If you have a lot of rosemary on hand, using sprigs as a garnish are just plain pretty. If not, a few fresh needles floating in the mug or sprinkled on a saucer are also a nice touch.

An update: Several days after publishing this post, I decided to make up another batch to sip on in the evening. But we were in the mood for a pre-dinner gin and tonic as well. So we decided to make the apple cider with rosemary as usual but to use gin instead of whisky. The result was even better than the original whisky version. A perfect holiday pre-dinner drink!

Making Hot Apple Cider with Rosemary

First, combine the chopped rosemary and apple juice in a medium saucepan, partially cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10- 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the warm juice to see if it has infused with enough rosemary flavor to your taste. If not, let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Put a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl and strain the juice. Rinse out the sauce pan and return the rosemary scented cider to the pot. Re-warm it over medium heat just to a simmer.

To rim your mugs, put the brown sugar into a soup bowl and moisten the edge of each of four mugs with a bit of water or juice. Dip the moistened rim in the sugar, turning it a bit to coat the rim evenly. Divide the whiskey among the mugs. Fill the mugs with the hot cider and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Note that at parties, I usually serve everyone’s cider without any booze and place the bottle nearby. Anyone who wants a drop can add. Anyone who doesn’t want any or isn’t old enough still gets to delight in the treat of a special holiday drink.

 

If you’re looking for another great holiday drink recipe, be sure to check out my light eggnog recipe, too.

I hope you enjoy your holidays, and this hot apple cider recipe, too.

 

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Hot Apple Cider with Rosemary


  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Description

The alcohol and rosemary lend a grown-up touch to this warm, comforting apple cider.


Ingredients

  • 3 large sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped – stems and all
  • 4 cups of apple juice (I prefer juice over cider because cider separates if it accidentally reaches a boil. Juice is a bit less finicky)
  • 4 Tbsp. of brown sugar
  • 4 oz. of whiskey (optional)
  • More sprigs of rosemary to garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. Combine the chopped rosemary and apple juice in a medium saucepan. Partially cover the pot of juice and warm it to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10- 15 minutes. Taste a bit of the warm juice to see if it has infused with enough rosemary flavor to your taste. If not, let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  2. Put a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl. Strain the juice through the sieve. Rinse out the sauce pan and return the rosemary scented cider to the pot. Re-warm it over medium heat just to a simmer.
  3. Put the brown sugar into a soup bowl. Moisten the edge of each of four mugs with a bit of water or juice. Dip the moistened rim in the sugar, turning it a bit to coat the rim evenly. Divide the whiskey (if using) among the mugs. Fill the mugs with the hot cider. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Notes

I’ve included the optional whiskey in the ingredient list here. Note that I usually serve everyone’s cider without any booze and place the bottle nearby. Anyone who wants a drop (me!) can add. Anyone who doesn’t want any or isn’t old enough still gets to delight in the treat of a special holiday drink.

This post originally appeared in November 2012 and was revised and republished in November 2020.