Christmas is my absolute favorite season – the lights, everyone in high spirits, the music, time with family and friends, and of course, the chance to entertain. I usually host at least one holiday party each year, and this year I’ll actually be hosting three! To get a head start on menu planning and party preparation, I decided to whip up this interesting version of a champagne cocktail to try out on some friends last night. It was delicious! Not only was the drink unique, spicy (in a sweet way), and full of crisp, sweet apples, but the cooking of the cider and spices made the entire house smell fantastic. This is not a warm cider, which is usually how I believe ciders are served, but is instead prepared warm and then chilled in the refrigerator before serving. This recipe serves a crowd, so feel free to halve the ingredients if you’d just like to split some champagne with one or two friends. I suggest making this right away to get in the Christmas spirit just in time for the start of December.
2 bottles (~ 750 ml each) sparkling apple cider [840 calories]
4 cinnamon sticks
5 small whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 large green apple (such as Granny Smith), washed, cored, skin left on, cut into small cubes [110 calories]
1 large red apple (such as Gala or Fuji), washed, cored, skin left on, cut into small cubes [110 calories]
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar [195 calories]
2 bottles (750 ml each) dry champagne, cava, or sparkling white wine [1345 calories]
Calories per serving: 260 per cocktail
Warm a medium-sized pot over medium heat on the stove, then stir in the apple cider, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Raise the heat to high, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low to keep the mixture simmering slowly. Allow mixture to simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about half. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool slightly (~ 10 minutes).
While mixture is simmering, prepare your apples.
When liquid mixture is cooling, combine the apple cubes, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. When the liquid mixture is cool, strain the liquid through a sieve into the apple mixture. Mix well, and then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (leave a long enough period of time to completely chill the mixture so it’s not even slightly warm when you want to drink it).
For serving, fill champagne flutes halfway with the liquid and apples. Top with champagne and enjoy!
This recipe originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine, and was submitted by celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli. The original version, for a smaller batch of drinks, can be found here
Mulled Apple Cider Cocktail.