Fall has most definitely arrived. At least here in the Pacific Northwest. The air is cool and crisp and encourages warm scarves, cozy sweaters and hot cups of coffee for hand-warmers. Leaves fall like confetti onto tree-lined sidewalks, crackling beneath the heels of passerbys and freckling the pavement burnt orange and gold. The sun is setting earlier now, giving all the more reason to appreciate the days. And if the days of autumn are reserved for pumpkin and apple picking, baking pies and pumpkin-infused caffeine, then the nights are certainly for sipping festive, properly spiced (and properly spiked) cocktails.
Last Sunday, we were surrounded by gourds and ghouls at a local organic pumpkin farm and haunted corn maze. We sipped rhubarb wine, engaged in fall festivities and got crazy muddy, which my dog Cocoa didn’t seem to mind. She did, however, mind wearing her spider costume earlier that day for a costume contest. (But, jokes on us, because we missed the contest by running a few minutes late and her crookedly ill-fitted costume kept falling off anyway, one spider leg at a time.)
When we came home, after giving Cocoa a bath (which is always a struggle), I really wanted to sip something warm and preferably, alcoholic. I think this cocktail does just the trick.
This cocktail infuses apple juice with warm spices such as cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. It then gets cozy with maple whiskey and honey and begs to be lazily sipped fireside or while snug under warm knit blankets.
I mean, what’s better than apple cider on fall nights?
Well… spiked apple cider, of course.
- 6 cups organic, unsweetened 100% apple juice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 15 whole cloves
- 3 long strips orange peel
- juice of half an orange
- 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ cup maple whiskey (I used Jim Bean)
- Combine the organic, unsweetened 100% apple juice with the cinnamon sticks, cloves, peeled ginger, freshly grated nutmeg and honey in a pot. Using a peeler, peel a few nice, long strips of the orange and add it along with the juice from half the orange.
- Bring the juice to a simmer; simmer for a minute and remove from heat. Let the juice sit and infuse for 25 minutes.*
- Strain the apple juice through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the cinnamon sticks for garnish. Add the whiskey and heat until warm.
- Pour into mugs, placing a cinnamon stick into each mug. Garnish with a slice of apple. Enjoy!