These are the perfect sippers for cozying up next to the fireplace on chilly winter nights. The warm spices and sweet cider are a perfect pairing.
- 4 cups fresh apple cider
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- 6 or 7 (2- to 3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole dried cloves
- 1 star anise pod
- 1 navel orange
- Good bourbon, such as Maker's Mark (optional)
- 1 crisp red apple
1. Place the apple cider, peppercorns, one of the cinnamon sticks, the cloves and the star anise in a medium saucepan. Cut a large (1- by 4-inch) peel from the orange using a vegetable peeler and add it to the pan.
2. Bring the cider mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Strain into a 4-cup glass measuring cup and discard the solids.
4. Pour the hot cider into mugs or heatproof glasses. Add 2 tablespoons bourbon, if using, to each mug.
5. Cut the orange in half through the stem, slice crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds, and add one slice to each mug.
6. Cut the apple in half through the stem, remove the core, slice crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick half-rounds, and add one slice to each glass.
7. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick in each glass for stirring.