Is it too soon? Dreaming of Mulled Cider

Last week, as my paddle sliced the inky lake water of Northern Minnesota, my mind wandered like a radio on scan. The beautiful surrounding set my wanderlusting mind on roam. On this particular day up North, I could feel the chill in the air and see the stirring wind sending waves and white caps to greet our lightweight canoe. Naturally, I tuned my mind to visions of fall: orange and red dotting the trees, football games, Halloween!, plus the perfect cozy sweater and a hot mug of cider. I would’ve traded my paddle for any of them.

It’s the dog days of summer, but I’m already anticipating the new season, new beginnings and a new take on a classic drink. I believe it’s in order.

Cider on Fire—as I like to call it, however, Mulled Cider works too.

Mulled Cider

Inspired by Nigella Lawson from the Food Network.

• 1 pint (16 fluid ounces) cider

• 2 fluid ounces dark rum

• 9 fluid ounces Apricot Chai*

• 1 1/2 ounces soft dark brown sugar

• 2 clementines

• 4 cloves

• 2 sticks cinnamon

• 2 fresh bay leaves

• 2 cardamom pods

*California Tea House’s Apricot Chai takes this to a whole other level. With a blend of citrus peels, vanilla bean bits, ginger slices and more, the result is an aphrodisiac that will spike up your party and punch.

Directions: Pour the cider, rum and herbal tea into a wide saucepan. Add the sugar and place the saucepan over a low heat. Slice the clementines in half and stick a clove into each half. Add the clementines to the pan. Break the cinnamon sticks in half. Add the cinnamon, bay leaves and cardamom pods to the saucepan. Heat the saucepan until the mixture is almost boiling. Turn down the heat once the pan is near to boiling. To serve, ladle the mulled cider into heatproof glasses with handles (or cozy gloves).

Perfect post-canoe battle, a festive fall event or right now. Believe me, you’ll want to save this. I’m still dreaming about it.

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