Bourbon Spiked Apple Cider (Hot or Chilled!)

A mug of apple cider spiked with bourbon sits with steam rising from the top surrounded by orange slices, whole spices, an apple and a pumpkin.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Vegan, Gluten-Free15 minutes
No matter the weather, this Spiked Apple Cider is a festive way to celebrate fall! Serve it hot in a mug or chilled for a refreshing drink.

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Back when my sisters’ kids were all little, we used to spend every Halloween together as a family for trick-or-treating. My oldest sister lived in one of those neighborhoods that goes all out for Halloween, and it was a blast to walk around for hours with all the kids hyped up on candy while us grown-ups had our own treat—travel mugs full of spiked apple cider!

There are few things more quintessentially fall than hot apple cider, and spiking it with bourbon, as we do here, just makes it that much more festive! This is the exact combo of deliciousness that we used to ladle into our travel mugs for our annual trick-or-treating expedition, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

The top of a mug of spiked apple cider showing the sugar rim, cinnamon stick, and star anise garnishes close up.

What should I spike apple cider with?

You probably gathered this from the name already, but I like to use bourbon for my spiked cider. The flavor of bourbon compliments the mulling spices and the sweetness of the apple beautifully! As for the quality of the spirit, any mid-tier bourbon will do here. No need to use your spendy top-shelf bourbon in a mixed drink!

If you’re not a bourbon fan or don’t have any on hand, this spiked apple cider is also great with spiced rum. You may want to use less maple syrup if you go the rum route, since the spices will make the rum a bit sweeter than the bourbon.

Over head of two mugs of bourbon apple cider on a linen table cloth with orange slices, star anise pods, and apple slices.

Can I make this in the slow cooker?

You sure can. In fact, that’s the best way to keep a large batch of spiked apple cider warm for a crowd. Pour everything but the garnish into the basin of your slow cooker and set it to low. Set the brown sugar, orange and apple slices, and/or extra cinnamon sticks off to the side, so people can deck out their own glasses when they get refills.

Do I serve this spiked apple cider hot or cold?

Both! I personally prefer it warm, because it is so nice and cozy on a chilly day. But it is also super refreshing on a warmer fall day to have it on the rocks.

Chilled glass of spiked cider filled with ice and garnished with sugar rim, cinnamon stick, star anise pod, and orange slice.

What spices are in spiked apple cider?

Warm spices, like the ones you’d put in an apple pie, are perfect for spiced apple cider. I chose to use cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and ginger, but you could also experiment with adding some allspice, nutmeg, or cardamom.

Wholefully Protip

Make sure you use whole spices when mulling your cider. That infuses the flavor of the spices without adding gritty, grainy ground spices to the cider.

Close-up of hand cupping the bottom of a mug of hot apple cider garnished with a sugar rim, orange slice, and cinnamon stick.

How can I garnish this apple cider cocktail?

I’ve given a few garnishing options in the recipe notes. If you want to go all out, here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Run one orange slice around the rim of an empty glass.
  2. Press the juiced rim into a shallow plate of brown sugar, and twist the glass so that the sugar sticks.
  3. Pour your spiked apple cider, and top with the orange slice and an apple slice.
  4. Add a cinnamon stick, either stuck into the drink or balanced on top of the glass.

But if that feels like too much effort, you can do just one or two of these—the apple cider cocktail will still be delicious!

Close-up of a single mug of a cider cocktail with a cinnamon stick sitting across the top and a star anise pod floating on top.

Does apple cider need to be refrigerated?

It sure does. Stash any leftover spiked cider in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

 

A mug of apple cider spiked with bourbon sits with steam rising from the top surrounded by orange slices, whole spices, an apple and a pumpkin.

Bourbon Spiked Apple Cider

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

No matter the weather, this Spiked Apple Cider is a festive way to celebrate fall! Serve it hot in a mug or chilled for a refreshing drink.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into slices
  • 2 small oranges
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) bourbon
  • 0 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup (see notes)
  • For garnishing: brown sugar, orange slices, apple slices, cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and ginger over medium heat. Wash the oranges well, then slice in half and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. Drop in one of the squeezed orange halves, and discard the other three.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour through a mesh sieve to filter out the spices and orange half.
  3. Combine the apple cider mixture with the bourbon and maple syrup. Serve hot, or chill to serve over ice.

Notes

  • Depending on the sweetness of your apple cider, you might want to omit the syrup completely. A more tart apple cider might need as much as 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of syrup to be tasty. Mix in the maple syrup at the end to adjust to your taste.
  • Because this is a mixed drink, no need to use top shelf bourbon here unless you really want to. Any middle-shelf bourbon will do the trick. 
  • To keep this warm for a crowd, keep it in a slow cooker on low.
  • To rim glasses: place about 1/4 cup of brown sugar in a saucer, run an orange slice around the rim of an empty glass, and place the rim in the sugar and twist to adhere the sugar. Fill.
  • To garnish: place an orange slice and apple slice on each glass, then place a cinnamon stick in the glass (if long enough) or balance on the top.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 229Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 4gSugar: 47gProtein: 1g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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