Apple cider. And fresh cranberries. And fresh-squeezed lemon and orange juices. And spices. And honey. All together, hot and steaming and delicious, on my stove. This is one of my favorite wintertime drinks, and as soon as I start to see cranberries arrive in my grocery store I begin to think about it. “Yay!” I say to myself. “It’s Swizzle time of year!”
I have made this drink for many different groups of people over the years (because it’s a great sort of “special company” drink), and I have never yet encountered anyone who didn’t like it. People who say they don’t like hot cider like it. People who say they don’t like cranberries like it. I don’t know what it is, but it’s some sort of magical combination of ingredients that makes it universally loved. So odds are that you’ll love it too!
Pour the cider, spices and honey in a large pot, and add the cranberries.
Ain’t they purty?
Turn the heat on high, and bring the cider to a boil. As it heats up you’ll hear little popping noises as the cranberries swell and the skin on them splits. It’s not overly dramatic but I get a disproportionate sense of enjoyment about this. Pop! Oh, look there goes another one! Pop! Oh, well. Small pleasures and everything.
After it comes to a boil, turn the heat down so that it simmers without boiling over, put on a lid, and let it go for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes all the cranberries are cooked and mushy and the cider is a lovely red!
Pour the liquid through a sieve, either into a different large pot or into a large crock pot. I usually do this for company, so I put it in a crock pot to keep it warm while everyone’s over.
You want to use a wooden spoon to kind of push the juices through the sieve. This is a really bad shot because I asked my son to take it for me while I did this part. It also features me in my super-sexy flannel nightgown. Try to contain yourselves, folks.
Pour in the fresh-squeezed lemon and orange juices. You want to use fresh juice here – it’s COMPLETELY different than store-bought zombie juices and tastes 100% better!
Taste for sweetness, and if you need it sweeter add more honey, or some drops of Stevia. How much sweetener you need will depend largely on how sweet your cider was, and how sweet you’re expecting it to be.
That’s it! Keep warm in a pot on the stove or in a crock pot while it’s being served.
- 1 gallon apple cider
- 4 cups fresh cranberries
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole cloves
- 1 inch piece ginger root (optional - nice if you have it on hand!)
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup (or to taste - sweeter cider will require less or no honey)
- 10-20 drops liquid Stevia extract (optional - to be used if you don't want to use as much honey)
- ⅔ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Put the cider, spices, honey, and cranberries in a large pot and heat over high until boiling.
- Put a lid on the pot, turn the heat down, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Pour through a sieve into another large pot or crockpot, using a wooden spoon to press the juices out of the cooked cranberries.
- Add the orange and lemon juices, and taste. If you want it sweeter add more honey or some Stevia extract.
- Serve hot.