3 Brilliant Ways To Drink Boozy Cider

Autumn may officially be “Pumpkin Spice Latte Season” but the syrupy, coffee-based drink has never been my seasonal sipper. (It doesn’t even have any booze in it!) That great honor goes to hot apple cider, with its warm, fragrant spices and crisp fruit flavor.

Part of the beverage’s beauty is how easy it is to prepare. You barely need a recipe! Just throw some spices and citrus zest in a pot with some unfiltered juice, and let everyone get to know each other. Then ladle it into mugs for instant coziness. I could do this most of the season and be happy, but I can’t resist mixing it up — and adding booze, of course — which is why I have come up with three extremely easy ways to enjoy my favorite cold-weather beverage. Click ahead on how to take your hot apple cider up a notch.

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Photographed by Claire Lower.
Make It Into A (Jell-O) Shot
Want to have your cider and eat it too? Allow me to suggest this solidified version, which is served in actual apple slices. If you’ve never made a Jell-O shot before, don’t worry: this recipe only looks like it requires kitchen skills.

Ingredients
10 apples, sliced in half from stem to bottom
4 lemon wedges
4 envelopes (1 oz) Knox brand unflavored gelatin
3 cups store-bought spiced cider (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup hard apple cider, such as Woodchuck or Angry Orchard

Instructions
1. Hollow out the insides of the apple halves, taking care not to puncture the skin. Rub a lemon wedge on the edge to prevent browning. Set aside.

2. Begin heating apple cider in a pot on the stove. Once the cider begins to simmer, but is not yet boiling, combine bourbon and hard cider in a large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over mixture and let bloom for a minute, undisturbed. Once cider is boiling and the gelatin has bloomed, pour the hot cider over the gelatin mixture. Stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.

3. Place apple halves on a baking tray or in a muffin tin (this helps to stabilize them) and gently ladle the hot gelatin mixture into the apple halves. Place in fridge and chill until fully set (about 4 hours). Cut apple halves into slices and enjoy!
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Photographed by Claire Lower.
Drink It Out Of An Apple
Want even more apple goodness? Try serving it in the fruit where it came from. It takes a small amount of (super easy) coring, but the payoff is Pinterest-worthy. Bonus: you can eat the apple once you finish your beverage, making this the ultimate biodegradable vessel.

Ingredients
8 apples
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 (64-oz) bottle of unfiltered, 100% apple juice
1 1/2 cups of rum or brandy
4 cinnamon sticks (plus extra for garnish)
2 tsp whole cloves (plus extra for garnish)
1 lemon worth of zest
Orange peels for garnish

Instructions
1. Slice the top off the apples and set aside. Remove the core with a grapefruit spoon or melon baller, and rub a lemon wedge along the edges of the apple to prevent browning.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and cover, letting everything mix and mingle for 30 minutes.

3. Ladle into apple “cups” and garnish with cinnamon sticks, orange peels, and cloves.
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Photographed by Claire Lower.
Make A Cider-Mulled Wine Hybrid For The Best Of All Worlds
If cider is the king of autumnal drinks, mulled wine is its wintery queen, and this hybridized beverage will take you all the way to New Year's Eve (at which point we will all switch to Champagne).

Ingredients
Peel of 1 orange, carefully removed with a vegetable peeler to avoid the white pith
1 tbsp sugar
1 bottle of medium-bodied or sweet white wine, depending on preference
32-oz unfiltered, 100% apple juice
1 cup bourbon
2 inches of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
4 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
Lemon rounds for garnish

Instructions
1. Place orange peels in a bowl and coat with sugar. Gently press down on peels with a muddler or a wooden spoon to help extract the oils. Let set at room temperature for an hour.

2. Scrape the peels and oil into a pot and add everything but the lemon rounds. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let mull for 30 minutes. Serve with lemon rounds.
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