Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hot Cider & Rum

So, for this one, we are kinda sorta famous.  We have been hosting a Hot Cider & Rum Holiday party nearly every year for the past 18 years or so, and Suzi has been doing it a few more years than that.  In the late 80’s, Suzi lived in a house at a busy intersection only a few blocks from “the” shopping mall in Chattanooga.  The cider party started as an open house on the weekend before Christmas.  She cooked up a big spread of food, mulled a big pot of cider, and an invitation was sent for friends and family to take a break from shopping and stop in for some cider, food and fun.  

But back in those days, with an underage brother and tea-totaling parents, we kept the rum hidden in the cabinet over the stove where the cider was mulling and spread the word to the “cool” folks to help themselves.

As the years passed, everyone in the group reached legal drinking age, and our multiple trips to Jamaica seasoned the parents to rum (side story: after our first trip to Jamaica, Suzi’s folks were visiting and she mixed herself a Coruba dark rum and OJ.  Her mom asked what she was drinking, to which she replied, “Orange juice, Mama.”  Mama said, “That is more than orange juice.”  Suzi: “Well, there is Jamaican rum in it.”  Mama: “Can I have one?”  Suzi recovers from shock and makes Mama a rum and OJ…) until finally the booze didn’t have to hide in the cabinet any longer.

After many years of cider parties in Chattanooga, we first introduced our friends in the Keys to our Cider & Rum back in 1998.  Since we do travel back to Tennessee for the holidays some years, the party has evolved into our “Annual If We’re Not Traveling Hot Cider & Rum Party.”  Over the past few years, it has also evolved into a musicians jam, or hootenanny as Suzi calls it.  We are fortunate to call many of the Keys finest musicians friends and when a bunch of them are gathered together in our backyard, all jacked up on cider, you never know what might happen.  Chances are good you’ll hear Scott singing “Merry Christmas From The Family” and Suzi singing “B Double E Double R U N” and if we are all very lucky maybe even Dave Feder singing one of his political songs (something about shooting huskies from a helicopter…?)

The recipe for the cider itself has also evolved over the years.  Scott has indeed perfected the mix and the mulling process into a fine art.  When we first decided to post on this particular drink, his initial reaction was that he was not going to divulge the cider recipe.  But, he did finally change his mind and agree to share. 

This recipe is for one large pot full of cider.  When we host the cider parties, we normally use 6-8 gallons of cider and adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Hot Cider & Rum

One gallon Apple Cider
One quart jug Apple Juice
One cup Cranberry Juice
One Orange
Whole Cloves
½ t. Cinnamon
Dash Nutmeg
¼ cup Golden Raisins
¼ cup Dried Cranberries or “Craisins”
* Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
Whole Cinnamon Sticks

*For a bit more complicated recipe, Scott sometimes makes a “Holiday Cider Blend” of rums, which changes from time to time, but is basically: Captain Morgan’s, Bacardi Gold, touch of good dark rum, touch of Hot Damn Cinnamon Schnapp’s.  You can make your own blend, but plain ole’ Captain works pretty well in a pinch.

Pour all liquids (except rum) into a large pot.  Cut orange into wheels.  Stick 5 whole cloves in each wheel.  Float orange slices on top of cider mixture.  Lightly sprinkle spices over the oranges.  Add raisins and cranberries.  Mull on low heat for at least one hour.  When the raisins turn back into grapes, it's ready to drink!

Fill a mug with hot cider mixture; add 1-2 shots rum mixture, according to taste and preference, garnish with a whole cinnamon stick.

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