Spiked Apple Cider with Oranges Star Anise and Whole Cloves

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I went out to a local restaurant that had outdoor seating. It was a cool November night here in Los Angeles and we had a nice view of the city skyline so we decided to sit outside by the fire pit. My husband and I were both at a loss for what kind of drink to order. It was a bit cold for a cold drink so we ended up ordering Irish coffees, which turned out to be weak. Bummer.

What I really wanted was a taste of crisp apple and warm spices, basically fall in a cup. With booze. I was a bit nervous to try a hot drink with orange juice in it. It sounds a bit acidic to me? (Though, I’d be happy to try a recipe with orange juice in it if you recommend one.)

Some recipes suggested using ingredients like orange bitters or ginger beer, but I wanted to use ingredients that were easier to find.

Really I just wanted some spiked apple cider.

Luckily I had everything on hand except for the cider and whole allspice, the later of which I was able to find a decent sized bag of at my local international market for less than $2. (By the way, my spice cabinet is beyond ridiculously full, beyond stupid full, and somewhere past comically full. Does anyone else have the same issue?)

Hot Spiced and Spiked Apple Cider


  • 4 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • ~10 whole cloves
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 quarts unfiltered apple juice or fresh apple cider (regular apple juice doesn’t taste as good in this recipe…)
  • 1 and 1/3 cup spiced rum (for 8% ABV) or 2/3 c (for 4% ABV)
  • (Optional) whipped cream for topping


  1. (Optional) Press the whole cloves into the rind of the orange then cut the orange in half. Studding the orange makes it easier to ladle out and serve in the end.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large sauce pot or small stock pot and bring to slow simmer.
  3. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and keep covered to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of pictures of warm drinks on Pinterest with beautiful cinnamon sticks and perfect star anise pods. Honestly, I wouldn’t serve anything in a cup that you wouldn’t want to eat or suck on. I certainly wouldn’t want to suck on a cinnamon stick, would you?

I would recommend a small dab of whipped cream for topping though. It quickly melts into a creamy, foamy layer on the top and it gives a great silky texture to each sip. If you add any more than that, it will curdle due to the rum.

This drink pairs well with sitting by the fireplace, pumpkin pie, and cozy pajamas.

Close Up of Spiked Apple Cider with Oranges Star Anise and Whole Cloves

Hot Spiced and Spiked Apple Cider
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