Hot Vanilla Apple Cider | Perfect for Fall Mountain Weddings

October Signature Cocktail

cider in apple cupsImage from Gimme Some Oven

I was recent talking to Maggie Lord of Rustic Wedding Chic and she had one of the most brilliant ideas for a fall wedding. She suggested serving Hot Apple Cider in hollowed out apples as the signature cocktail as guests arrive. Nothing says fall like apple cider, but served in a hollowed out apple? Now THAT'S classy! And the absolute beauty of it is it can be served with or without alcohol, making it a perfect signature drink for a fall mountain wedding. So I have for you today, two signature cocktail recipes for apple cider: One alcoholic, and one sans alcohol.

Warm Vanilla (spiked) Cider

Warm Vanilla Spiked CiderImage and recipe from Martha Stewart

Makes 6

  • 6 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 whole nutmeg seeds
  • 1 vanilla bean (split and scraped)
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) bourbon, if desired
  • Whipped cream

Combine apple cider, dark-brown sugar, nutmeg seeds, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Gently simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and add bourbon if desired. Remove and discard solids. Divide among 6 mugs or heatproof glasses, and top each with a dollop of whipped cream and a few honeyed walnuts.

Vanilla Lemon Apple Cider (non-alcoholic)

Vanilla Lemon Apple CiderImage and recipe from The Dragon's Kitchen

Makes: 6-8

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup brandy (optional)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 cardomon pods, crushed
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • Lemon slices and cinnamon sticks to garnish

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, combine apple cider, brandy, cinnamon sticks, star anise, peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom pods, lemon and honey. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and the bean to the apple cider mixture. Bring the cider to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the apple cider and keep it warm. Serve immediately with a slice of lemon and a cinnamon stick.

Apple Cider Signature Cocktail Tips

Apple Cider falls perfect drinkImage from Apple Creek Orchards (in WI)

  • Unless you're having an extremely small and intimate wedding and it's a sweet and crazy hippy potluck, don't DIY this drink! Take it to your caterer or bartender and talk about your desire to serve it, how you want it done, and the labor and cost of doing so. Professional caterers can make large batches ahead of time and simply heat and serve at your reception. Can you imaging coring 150 apples the day before your wedding, all the while trying to DIY all that other stuff you committed to? YIKES!
  • Same goes for the hollowed out apples. Don't DIY this. Don't DIT this either. Leave it to your caterer and their gang of helpers in their commercial kitchen.
  • Source local organic apples if you can. Make going to the orchard or the farmers market a fun bonding trip with family or your wedding party.
  • If you are test driving this drink and want to try it in hollowed out apples, do the following:
    • First wash your apples thoroughly
    • Cut the top off and use a melon baller to remove the core, seeds and most of the flesh. Leave a wall approximately 1/4 inch thick.
    • Rub lemon juice on the inside of the apple (and lid, if you've kept it) to prevent browning.
    • If you are not using them immediately, store the apples in the fridge for a few days.