Lucy's Mulled Cider
In the past, it was drunk in the apple orchards as part of the pagan wassailing rituals, to ask the Gods for a successful apple harvest. These days we are more likely to enjoy it in front of a fire, inside or out. It makes a great party drink too, as it can sit and wait for your guests and doesn’t mind a slow bit of reheating. Taken from River Cottage Christmas by Lucy Brazier
Pour the cider and apple juice into a big pan. Add the spices, cover and bring gently to just below the boil. Take it off the heat and it can happily sit for a couple of hours.
When you are ready to serve your mulled cider, put the pan back on the hob and bring to a simmer. Add the orange slices, pour in the sloe gin or brandy and give everything a good stir. Remove from the heat.
It may need a little sugar or a couple of spoonfuls of honey or sugar to soften the acidic appley hit, so taste and adjust accordingly.
1 litre still cider
300ml good-quality apple juice
4 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
200ml sloe gin or brandy
1 sliced orange, sliced
Honey or sugar, to taste