Fruity & fragrant mulled apple juice has all the flavours of the festive season.
Cosy, warm and delicious, it’s perfect for Chanukah.
Chanukah is a special time of year, a time to brighten the dark winter evenings and celebrate with family and friends. We like to throw a Chanukah party, with candle lighting, games, and plenty of food and drinks. Spending time with loved ones in a cosy, candle-lit room is wonderful way to make the holiday extra special.
Our party menu has evolved over the years but always includes some delicious and traditional fried foods like latkes, fried gefilte fish balls, and doughnuts, plus some not-sot-traditional treats like Chanukah mince pies and olive oil cupcakes. But one area where we’ve yet to innovate has been in the drinks we serve. We usually stick to simple staples like wine, juice and fizzy water.
This year I challenged myself to create a delicious Chanukah beverage for our party. With a few weeks to go, I put my thinking cap on.
A couple of months ago we made a birthday party for my daughter Kipper. On a perfect early autumn day the kids spent time exploring outdoors and making a camp fire. At Kipper’s request I’d made a big flask of warm spicy apple juice, and the children loved it. I realised that with a tweak or two, this could be the perfect drink for our Chanukah celebration, since:
- Hot mulled apple juice is a deliciously seasonal child friendly drink.
- It can easily be ‘spiced up’ for the adults by simply adding a shot of whisky or rum to each cup if desired.
- I could make little dreidels from apple and cloves to give the mulled juice some real Chanukah flair. (Scroll down now if you want to see how to make them!)
Kipper’s birthday spiced apple juice had been a pretty simple concoction but I went all-out with the Chanukah version. The little apple dreidels were joined by sliced apples, oranges and lemons, plus warming spices like cinnamon and star anise. As the mixture reached a gentle simmer, fragrant steam carried festive aromas around the house – just gorgeous.
The taste test…
As soon as it was warmed through I ladled some mulled apple juice into a cup, inhaled its fruity fragrant scent, and took a sip. Like a hug in a mug, it had all the flavours of the season, cosy, warm and soothing.
I filled Kipper’s insulated cup and set off on the school run. At the end of a hard day’s learning, this warm mulled apple juice was a welcome after-school treat. I’d been a little worried that the spices might be too strong for her taste, but was relieved to hear a resounding “It’s delicious, Mummy!” from the back of the car.
Whether or not you have a Chanukah party, do treat your family to this wonderful winter drink. It’s so simple to make, and will help to turn any cosy, candle-lit evening into a festive celebration.
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You can see how I made the apple dreidels at the end of the recipe.
Mulled apple juice with little apple dreidels
- 2 litres apple juice (8 1/2 cups)
- 2 apples
- 2 tsp cloves
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 2 cm chunk fresh ginger (1 inch)
- 2-4 cinnamon sticks
- 2-4 whole star anise
- Honey (optional)
- Whisky (optional)
Pour the apple juice into a large pan.
Slice one apple and add to the juice. Cut the other apple into 1-2cm pieces and cut one end of each into a point. Insert a clove into the other end to make a dreidel shape (see photo below). Add the apple dreidels to the pan.
Slice the orange and lemon and add to the pan.
Peel the ginger and slice. Add to the pan with the cinnamon sticks and star anise.
Gently heat the mixture, stirring very occasionally, until it reaches a gentle simmer. Slow heating will allow the flavours to merge. Do not allow the liquid to reach a fast boil.
Once warm, remove from the heat and serve.
Offer honey or whisky to taste.