Confession: I’m not much for traditions. My innate personality (Myers-Briggs Idealist) naturally tends toward future-focused forward thinking, and I tend to be good at thinking on my feet and making things work. To me, traditions can be wonderful and they do have their place, but traditions just for the sake of it tend to make me annoyed. I see them as an extremely slippery slope to falling into “the way we’ve always done it” thinking, which is something I completely abhor. Plus, traditions can become meaningless, which I also cannot stand. But, traditions are like regrets: I have a few. And today I’m sharing one of them. Traditions, that is.
Every year on the weekend before Halloween, Matt and I carve a pumpkin, and we always accompany this activity with this delicious apple cider libation. This yearly event came about in the most nonchalant of ways, with us simply wanting a drink to have with the pumpkin carving, and beer didn’t sound good to me at the time. So I found this recipe, made it, we loved it, and here we are eight years later.
Upon our first go at pumpkin carving, we both realized how hysterically talentless we are at it. And I’m sure the spiked cider doesn’t help, but honestly, we’re so bad at pumpkin carving that it can’t possibly hurt. Or maybe it does – in order to know for sure, we’d have to carve a pumpkin without this spiked cider and compare the results. And we all know that isn’t going to happen, because this little beverage is just too good.
It’s warm, seasonal, spicy and earthy. I highly recommend it, alongside a pumpkin carving or just because. Oh, and if you have a fireplace, then 1) I’m officially jealous, and 2) you should definitely find a chilly evening, light a roaring fire, and curl up with your pet or your significant other and sip on a warm mug of this beautiful drink.
Source: slightly adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray, February/March 2006
2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground ginger
½ quart apple cider
4 oz. brandy
In a small bowl, mash the butter with the cinnamon and ginger until thoroughly combined. Set aside at room temperature away from any heat source like the oven or stove top.
Heat the cider in a small stockpot over medium-low to medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. You want it hot, but do not boil it.
Ladle the hot cider into your mugs, about 2/3 full. Add 1 ounce of brandy to each mug and top with a dollop of the spiced butter. Makes about 4 drinks.