How To Make The Perfect Mulled Cider


We’re fast approaching our favourite time of year – the festive period. And with that comes Christmas markets, social get-togethers, work parties and all the other things that come together to make Christmas and New Year such a memorable (but chaotic!) time of year. It is also the perfect excuse to depart with your year-round tipples and enjoy mulled drinks – and not just mulled wine. Mulled cider is growing in popularity and is a very easy drink to make.

Mulled cider isn’t a new phenomenon. Cider may be associated with hot summer days, but mulled cider has a long history in Britain that dates back many centuries. In fact, we can trace it back to Wassail, a pagan ceremony which toasted apple trees and beckoned in spring, where mulled cider took the form of mulled ale, curdled cream, eggs, sugar and other ingredients that you’d probably pass on today!

Fear not however, we have a perfect mulled cider recipe for you below that is more palatable and simpler to make.

What is Mulled Cider?

To mull a drink, usually it involves heating say wine or cider with spices and citrus-based fruits so it all fuses together to create a warming and flavourful drink. It is perfect either as a personal tipple on a cold winter’s night, or for when you have guests over during the festive months. But when is the precise moment when it is appropriate to swap a nice crisp glass of Sandford Orchards cider for a mulled version of the drink? You can have mulled cider all year-round if you want to, but Bonfire night marks the start of mulled cider season, says our founder Barny Butterfield, running all the way through to Wassail.

There isn’t one single apple variety or cider that makes great mulled cider, it all comes down to personal preference. Some like a light cider with a hint of spice, whilst others go the whole-hog and prefer a brutish, heavy mull accompanied by sloe gin or brandy.

Mulled Cider Recipe

For Barny, the best mulled cider is made using a mulling syrup that is added to warm cider, rather than a more traditional process of heating cider with spices. Why? Because cooking cider for a long period of time will cause it to lose its fruity flavour and zip. To avoid losing those crisp notes, never heat past the temperature in which you plan to serve it and be as gentle as possible during the cooking process.

Whilst Barny prefers mulling syrup, our recipe below features the more traditional spices and citrusy flavours – enjoy!


  • 1.5l of Sandford Orchards cider (we suggest Devon Mist)
  • 400ml apple juice
  • 75g brown sugar
  • A clove studded apple
  • 2 star anise
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Tbsp all-spice berries

And a glug or two of Calvados for that extra flavour before combining all the ingredients together and simmering, not boil, for 30 minutes. For that finishing touch, garnish with apple slices before serving.

We’ve certainly noticed an upward trend in preference for mulled cider over mulled wine in recent years, and Sandford Orchards have been frequently offering the tipple at Exeter Christmas markets, so why not come and visit us this year and enjoy a mug or two with us this year?

If you like the sound of our mulled cider recipe, you’ll love our winter cider cocktails blog. More ways to enjoy cider this festive season!

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