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One constant at holiday parties is hot, spiced cider. It fills the house with warm fragrances of vanilla, cinnamon and others. Whether spiked or not, it warms us from the inside out.

What you’ll need:
1 gal Apple juice or cider
5-6 cinnamon sticks
1 orange
2 vanilla beans
2-3 teaspoons whole cloves
2-3 teaspoons whole allspice pods
small coffee filter and some string

How to make it:
The basic premise is to heat all the items together, letting flavors combine into one.

Cut the orange into segments however you see fit - rounds or wedges don't seem to make much difference . Put the vanilla beans, cloves, and allspice into a small coffee filter and tie the top closed. Add everything to the pot and apply heat.

If you have several hours and a slow cooker, you can do it all in that. Set it for the number of hours you have before the party starts, cover, and leave alone.

I usually don't plan ahead that much so I use a large pan on the stovetop. Bring to a gentle boil and maintain for 15-20 minutes. If you have a slow cooker, transfer all contents here and select the lowest setting (keep warm), cover, and leave alone.

Pro tip
Don’t add liquor to the mix. Offer it as an option. Besides keeping it easy for kids or those wanting to remain sober, the ideal serving temperatures are often close to cause alcohol to evaporate (173 versus 212 of water) if it sits too long.

Serve with a ladle into ceramic cups with handle (coffee or tea cups are ideal)

What to serve with it
Your favorite bourbon or rum. We recommend aging the spirit in our mini barrels for 4 weeks before decanting. The additional age applies a mellow, yet more robust flavor bringing out the vanilla and woodsy notes. It makes a perfect addition to the cider. Place your decanter of aged bourbon beside the cider and let friends serve themselves.