Christmas is literally two days away! Can you feel the magical excitement surrounding you during these days leading up to Christmas?! It’s one of the best feelings there is! Drink it in as much as you can.
Speaking of drinking I’ve got one for you that will make you feel all warm and cozy inside, hot apple cider!! Only we are making it ourselves, in a slow cooker because we like easy and not having to watch over something while it boils. I know what you are thinking: but cider is more of a fall thing, this is Christmas, this is winter!!! Let’s be honest here, you know that as long as there is a chill in the air hot apple cider will hit the spot!
This Slow Cooker Apple Cider is everything you always want your cider to be. It’s warm, comforting, sweet, yet a little tart. It’s got all of those warming spices: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice – and it’s got a thickness to it that lets you know it’s homemade apple cider. The great thing about this cider is that you can pick the type of apples you prefer. I like a mixture of tart, and sweet apples. Plus there is that awesome satisfaction that comes with making something from scratch that most people buy at the store. Go us!!
Let’s not forget the most important part of our Slow Cooker Apple Cider, we are making a cider bar to go with it, and not just any cider bar, a BOOZY cider bar! Because it’s the holidays and whiskey helps to keep us warm! Guys, I may be a little too excited about the booze part. Just a little!
The Slow Cooker Apple Cider + Boozy Bar works like this:
- You make the cider in your slow cooker because then you can get the rest of your cider bar all set up and ready to go while the cider cooks itself.
- You set out yummy things that people can put into their cider to make it their own. The sky is the limit here but a few suggestions are some caramel sauce (store bought or homemade), maple syrup, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, dried apples. You could also set out some juice options: fresh ginger juice, cranberry juice, maybe pomegranate juice.
- Select your booze: cinnamon whiskey, spiced rum, brandy, plain whiskey or bourbon, and even vodka are all good options. My favorite has been the spiced rum, the spices in the rum play nicely with the mulled spices in the cider. The cinnamon whiskey is a close second – because cinnamon and apples forever! Also make sure to leave out a few shot glasses so guests can measure how much alcohol they are adding to their cider.
- Label everything so your guests know what is what and doesn’t have to ask you all night long.
- Set out enough mugs for everyone. Don’t worry if they don’t all match, use what you have.
- Decorate your bar table. Maybe a few apples. Or some greenery, or a strand of lights, or candles for that Christmas or New Year’s Eve feel. Keep it simple and use what you have on hand. Edible decorations are the best though, because you can eat them afterwards. Just sayin’!
- Once your cider is done cooking and you are ready to serve it you have two options: 1) you can keep it warm in your slow cooker with a ladle for serving. 2) Use a large thermos that keeps drinks warm for hours.
- The most important step of all: drink up! Be merry and have fun getting creative with your flavor combos!
See wasn’t that fun?! I’ll just be over here waiting for my invite to your hot apple cider boozy bar party! 😉
What’s great about this Slow Cooker Apple Cider + Boozy Bar party situation is that it’s customizable. You can leave out the alcohol if you want this to be a kids party. Or if it’s an adult and kids party then you know there are plenty of fun options for both. Or you can even keep it simple and just serve some good ole’ homemade hot apple cider. I don’t think anyone would complain about that!
When I originally thought of this cider boozy bar I was thinking about an adult beverage for New Year’s Eve. BUT this cider bar would be perfect for a Christmas party (there is still time), or even a Halloween party! Yes please to all! I hope you have as much fun with this party idea as i did creating it! And of course, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas in two days! Enjoy every moment of it!
- HOT APPLE CIDER:
- 10 to 12 medium apples (I used a mix of Jonagold, Granny smith, Golden Delicious, and Gala. Any of your favorites will do)*
- 1 orange
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 2 inches of fresh ginger (optional)
- 6 to 8 cups cold filtered water
- (optional) 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey to sweeten
- OPTIONS FOR THE BAR:
- Orange slices
- dried apples
- cinnamon sticks
- fresh ginger juice
- Cranberry juice
- Pomegranate juice
- Caramel sauce**
- OPTIONS FOR THE BOOZE:***
- Spiced Rum
- Cinnamon Whiskey
- HOT APPLE CIDER:
- Wash and Quarter the apples and orange ( no need to peel or core them because we will strain the cooked apples at the end), place the fruit in a large slow cooker. Also add all of the spices.
- Fill the crock pot with water, leaving ½ inch from the top. For me it was about 6 cups, but this varies depending on how many apples you use.
- Cook at low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. An hour before the cider is done cooking use a potato masher, or the back of a wooden spoon to mash the apples into a pulp. Uncover and cook on high for 1 more hour.
- Once done cooking filter the cider through a fine mesh siv and into a bowl to catch the juice, pushing the juice out of the pulp with a spatula. You can run it through the siv a second time for an extra smooth cider, if you desire.
- Taste and add sweetener if desired. Serve hot. (also good cold)
- If serving this cider to guests rinse out your crock put and add the cider back in it. Keep the crock pot on warm or low to keep the cider hot, but don't allow it to boil. Keep a ladle near by for serving. You could also use a large thermos.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days. You could also freeze the cider.
- FOR THE BAR:
- Set out any alcohol that you plan to use (listed above) and any of the other add ins that you plan to use (listed above). You can place things in cute bottles or mason jars, or other dishes you may have. Set out shot glasses to measure alcohol and plenty of mugs. Label everything. And decorate the table according the season, if desired. Apples would be good any time of year. Pumpkins would be good for Halloween/fall. Greenery, twinkle lights, or candles would be great for Christmas/New year's Eve. Keep it simple.
**For the caramel sauce you could do store bought or make your own. For a vegan caramel sauce made with coconut sugar I made Minimalist Baker's Coconut Sugar Caramel Sauce found in her Everyday Cooking cookbook. It's really good! Another recipe to try would be this one.
***Keep in mind that not all alcohol is gluten free. Whiskey and bourbon are not gluten free because they use grains that contain gluten to make it. Brandy is usually gluten free, but keep an eye out. Vodka is not normally gluten free, but Tito's is.
TIPS FOR MAKING AHEAD:
-You could make the cider up to 2 days ahead of time, reheat just before serving.
-You could make the caramel sauce and ginger juice ahead of time.
-You could decorate your table ahead of time
-You may want to consider making a double batch of cider depending on how many people you invite to your party. You could easily both batches into the slow cooker after it's cooked in there aren't any apples left.
Slow Cooker Apple CiderRecipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Nutrition facts are based on 8 servings, about 3/4 to 1 cup per serving. It does not include any of the a options for the mix ins (alcohol, caramel, juices etc)