And winter parties round these parts share a couple of indispensable characteristics, first is a huge bonfire and the second, a large pot or two simmering away on the wood stove filled with something warm to drink . Usually, one pot will be filled with mulled wine, warm and fragrant, spicy red wine generously ladled around to keep the adults merry. The other pot will be warm spiced apple juice, served to the little ones in mugs to keep the chills at bay.
Warm spiced apple juice is so easy to make, and we drink it often in winter, not just at parties, but whenever you might normally have a hot chocolate. There are a few old orchards round here that make fresh pressed juice, and you buy it from a fridge in a shed by the side of the road, paying your money to an honesty box. Although you can go the more traditional route and buy your juice at a local supermarket, just make sure you get that nice cloudy apple juice.
Not really a recipe - I'm guestimating the quantities, be guided by your taste buds to create a flavour you like. Sometimes I don't have whole spices to hand and use ground, that works okay. Of course, you can make a much smaller amount for one or two people, or double it for your next winter party.
2 litres of cloudy apple juice
1 litre of water
1/4 cup sugar (to taste - this really depends on the sweetness of your juice, you may not need any)
1 lemon or orange or both, thinly sliced
2 slices of fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
12 allspice berries
8 whole cloves
In a large saucepan combine all ingredients and simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally for 25 minutes. Strain mixture and discard solids.
Serve in tea cups, mugs or jam jars for a hipster affect. One might be tempted to add a nip of gin and apple brandy for extra warmth. Try sipping it using a cinnamon stick as a straw - it's amazing!