Pick Your Potion
While red wine and apple cider are the most traditional of the spiced winter warmers, you can also use cranberry juice, white wine, hard cider, or ale. All of these beverages take very nicely to mulling--which is simply adding spices to them and warming them up.
- The primary spice combinations for mulled wine or cider almost always include cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.
- Nutmeg, mace, star anise, allspice berries, cardamom pods, slices of fresh ginger, orange slices and lemon zest are also good additions.
- To infuse without making the drink cloudy and gritty, use whole spices rather than ground.
How to Mull
Bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer over low heat.
- Don't let it boil: this can cause spices to turn bitter.
- To really allow the flavors of the spices to infuse into the beverage, you should allow the mixture to simmer on the stovetop for at least half an hour.
It's fine to keep the pot warm for several hours, allowing everyone to sip holiday cheer throughout the night: a slow cooker on low heat is ideal. Ladle into mugs and serve, garnished with an orange slice or cinnamon stick.