If one drink screams "fall," it's apple cider. Crisp, refreshing apples are at their peak in October, so you should drink as much cider as possible 'til the fruit goes out of season! Mulled apple cider takes ordinary cider to the next level, simmered with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorns, and a little dried chile. That's not enough to make things spicy—just perfectly spiced. And because you should make the good stuff last as long as possible, this giant batch leaves plenty leftover to reduce down into a syrup to make a Mulled Apple Cider Latte (hot or iced), or spice up your coffee, tea, or even a cocktail. Plus, you can make it over and over again all fall and winter long.
small dried hot red pepper, such as chile de arbol
whole black peppercorns
whole allspice berries
teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
cup light brown sugar
orange, sliced into thin rounds
+ Optional: Splash of spiced rum or bourbon per mug
For the Mulled Apple Cider
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Strain and serve in mugs, garnishing with a cinnamon stick and orange wheel. If desired, spike each serving with an ounce of rum or bourbon.
For the Mulled Apple Cider Syrup:
Makes about ½ cup of thick syrup for adding to coffee, cocktails, and tea.
Remove and discard the oranges from the prepared mulled cider, then transfer 4 cups to a medium sauté pan (3 to 5 quarts). Boil over medium-high heat, reducing slightly during the last five minutes, until foamy, sticky bubbles form on the top, and it has reduced to about ½ cup of thick syrup, about 30 minutes. (If you have more cider, you may need to boil longer—the full 8 cups would take about 1 hour.)
Cool slightly and transfer to a jar or another reusable container along with the spices (leaving them in infuses them with flavor; you can also strain them out if you’d like). Let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks for coffee, tea, cocktails, and anything that needs a little bit of fall festiveness.