Move over, pumpkin spice: Nothing screams fall like warm apple cider, and there’s nowhere better to drink it than Boston itself.
A classic New England tradition, apple cider was introduced in the United States by the early colonists, who used the fruit of the abundant crabapple trees for alcoholic and non-alcoholic ciders alike. John Adams himself allegedly drank a tankard of apple cider every day to settle his stomach.
Today, there are several Massachusetts institutions pressing their own cider and distributing to stores and cafes around the state. At the Copley and SoWa farmer’s markets, local vendors sell their own homemade apple cider, hard and sweet, for Bostonians to sample and serve to family and friends.
The secret to homemade apple cider is a little love and mulling spice. Brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and orange peel transform cold apple cider into something warm and toasty. Bring that to a simmer for about thirty minutes and boom – sweet and spicy goodness for any Halloween party or cold Sunday afternoon. The allspice and cinnamon balance the sweetness of the added sugar, while the molasses in the brown sugar plays off the crisp flavor of the apples. Make sure you buy a tart pressed apple cider – the sweet stuff you buy at the supermarket will make your homemade cider too sweet.
Recipe: Homemade Spiced Cider
1 gallon local apple cider
½ cup brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
2 tbsp grated orange peel
4 whole cloves
1 tbsp whole allspice
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp freshly chopped ginger
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan or crockpot and bring to a simmering boil, stirring periodically. Lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain spices from liquid and serve with whipped cream, rum or a shake of cinnamon.
But let’s be honest here –Part of the fun of drinking cider is going out to a small hole-in-the-wall with cushy chairs and old jazz, where you can bring a book and pretend you don’t have twenty pounds of homework sitting on your desk. Some places get creative, too: West Campus favorite Blue State Coffee makes “chaider,” a chai-tea-apple-cider fusion that makes a lot more sense when you think about it. Boston’s award-winning coffeehouse Thinking Cup has fresh, organic, local apple cider delivered every morning. No matter where you are in the city, there’s bound to be a café nearby with a mug waiting for you, that fall harvest scent wafting out the door.