Chilly autumn afternoons and cozy evenings call for mulled apple cider or wine. Not only do these comforting beverages taste good, they scent your home with a welcoming spicy fragrance that 'feels like home.'
Our Christmas Cove holiday mulling spice blend is a riff on a cider I enjoyed on a bitterly cold and wet day in Christmas Cove, Maine, outside of South Bristol. This historic little harbor gets its name from the English explorer John Smith, who sailed into this little harbor on Christmas day in 1614. This enchanting area is the epitome of East coast charm and maritime life.
On the East coast, it's traditional to served hot mulled cider with freshly made cider doughnuts in the Fall — but we won't tell if you buy them. To make a batch of hot mulled cider, simply add 2 tablespoons of Christmas Cove spices to a half gallon of apple cider or cranberry juice, bring the mixture almost to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer and allow the spices to 'mull' for about 20 minutes or so.
If you're serving a crowd, the hot cider can be moved to a crock pot and kept warm. Add a few orange slices to float on top for a festive finish.
To make mulled wine, start with a bottle of a big, bold medium-priced red — don't go overboard on price. The spices will cover up any flaws. Combine 750ml bottle red wine, 1/4 cup brandy, 1/4-1/3 cup of honey, 2 tablespoons of mulling spices in a large pot. Stir and then gently warm on medium heat, taking care not to boil. Once it's hot and steamy, it's ready. Strain and serve in heat proof mugs.
Warm mulled wine goes fabulously with a charcuterie platter and a variety of cheeses and is a 'warm welcome' to the senses as guests arrive for a fall get-together.
Because our Christmas Cove holiday spice blend contains rooibos, you can add a couple of teaspoons to a cup of boiling water, let it steep, and enjoy it on its own.