Nothing is better when the weather gets cold or at holiday gatherings than Hot Spiced Cider. It is a traditional part of my family's Christmas celebration, a favorite of many! It keeps in the refrigerator for a least a week, nice to have on hand for those chilly evenings when you just need a little something special. You can add rum or bourbon to make it an "adult beverage".
2 quarts apple cider (I used an apple-sour cherry cider for the beverage pictured)
1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 Tablespoons mulling spice mixture (I used Penzey's)
1 cup rum or bourbon
Combine the cider, cranberry juice cocktail, and sugar in a dutch oven or extra-large saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Place the mulling spices in a large square of cheesecloth and tie with a piece of butcher's twine or a rubber band to form a "sachet" and add to the cider mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the mulling spice sachet. Add the alcohol, if using.
To serve, leave over very low heat on the stove, or transfer to a insulated beverage serve or a crockpot to keep warm. Cool completely before refrigerating.
This can be made in advance, cooled, refrigerated, and reheated before serving.