Earlier this week, I stirred up a little local witches brew for all the moms dads and grandparents out Trick or Treating with the kiddos. The weather had just turned in Charlotte and a warm toddy seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. You’ll find several recipes in the body of this post, so don’t just jump to the end. This master recipe for this hot toddy is easy, one you’ll want to continue to serve all fall and winter long! The super simple recipe starts with a gallon of local NC Apple Cider. This time of year bottled sweet and hard ciders are an easy find. Just look at your local famers market. And, if you can’t find cider at the market, find local NC Apples and make your own.
‘Tis the season for NC Apples and NC Apple Cider
When I was working hosting the cooking stage at the NC Mountain State Fair back in September of this year, we kept a variety of local apples in the onstage pantry. With so many local varieties available I needed a little cheat sheet to keep them all straight. So, as you can see, my friends at the NC Apple Growers Association helped me out. , I ask you, what would we all do without duct tape and Sharpie markers?
Make you own NC Apple Cider
Ok, for arguments sake – and the sake of the first recipe in this blog post. Let’s say you can’t find local cider at your area farmers market.
Instead buy a variety of NC apples -about a dozen or so. For the best final flavor, but an assortment of varieties. Then buy a couple of organic oranges. Oranges don’t regularly grow in NC; and when I can’t find a local source for something I always go organic.
You’ll also need some cinnamon (ground or stick) and some cloves.
Do yourself a favor and don’t use the spices that have been in your spice cabinet for years. Treat yourself. Go visit my friends at the Savory Spice Shop and get a new batch – the flavor difference it will bring to your cider is amazing. When you go to shop you will see that there are several varieties of cinnamon from which to choose. My go-to is the Supreme Saigon Cinnamon.
Or, if you are into essential oils, you can add a cinnamon bark or cassia oil to your brew. Be sure to use an edible oil from a brand you know. I recommend using DoTerra’s Cassia oil. ( I put several drops of this in my tea every morning!)
An apple a day, is a great way to eat and drink local
Once you’ve got all the ingredients. simply slice up the apples, with or without the skin – your choice – and add them to a large stock pot.
Slice up a few extra to enjoy as a snack as you cook. I like mine topped with my favorite NC peanut butter – the Crunchy-Style of Mama Young’s Nourishing Nut Butters from Coddle Creek Farms in Mooresville NC.
Back to Your Homemade NC Apple Cider
But, I digress. Let’s get back to the cider. Slice the orange and remove the seeds – but keep the skin on. Place a clove or two in the side of each of the orange slices and add them to the pot. Then add a tablespoon or two of cinnamon. If you are using the Essential Oil, start with about 10-15 drops. This should be enough, but you can add more later if you would like.
Finally, cover the apples, oranges, and spices with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let the fruit cook down into the water. Simmer for 30 minutes or so. You can actually let it go a bit longer if you would like. Your home will smell wonderful in the process.
Once the apples are very soft and are mashable, take the pan off the heat. Remove the orange slices (the peel should really be all that is left.) Squeeze the peels into the pot as you take them out. Also remove any cloves or cinnamon sticks.
Then, use a potato masher to mash the apples. Strain the mixture into a bowl or pitcher or another stock pot through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bits of apple or apple peel or any leftover cloves or pieces of cinnamon.
Keep Your Cider Non Alcoholic
Taste the liquid to adjust the seasonings. See if you need to add more cinnamon or cloves. If you are using local seasonal apples, you shouldn’t need to add sugar. But, if it’s not quite sweet enough for your liking, try adding a local honey or local or organic maple syrup.
Once cool, pour the mix into a gallon container and keep it in the fridge. This will be the base for your Hot Toddy. For kids or those who would prefer a Non alcoholic pour, you can make a perfectly delicious Hot Toddy without any alcohol.
With no preservatives you can expect about a 2 week shelf life in the fridge.
The mix is easily warmed in the microwave or on top of the stove. To make the cider into a toddy, add equal parts or fresh lemon juice and honey to the homemade or market bought cider.
If you are adding alcohol, I recommend Muddy River’s Queen Charlotte Rum or spice it up a bit more and add their Spiced Rum, it’s delicious. Both are available at ABC stores across the Carolinas and at the Distillery in Belmont, NC.
Alcoholic or not, you can make the toddy even more special by topping it with a dollop of whipped cream.
Or, turn your toddy into more of a Hot Buttered Rum. You will use the same basic ingredients but start each cup with a Tablespoon of softened unsalted butter.
NC Apple Cider Hot Buttered Rum
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter softened at room temo
- 1 cup NC Apple Cider warmed on the stovetop or in the microwave
- 1-2 Tbsp. lemon Juice more or less to taste
- 1-2 Tbsp, local honey more or less to taste
- 2 Jiggers Muddy River Distillery Spiced Rum
Make your NC Apple Cider Hot Buttered Rum a cup at a time
For each cup, add the tablespoon of softened butter into the bottom of a mug.
Warm the apple cider and add it to the butter and whisk to blend.
Add lemon juice and honey to taste. Blend well. The honey should melt right into the mix.
Add the rum and stir to blend.
Use a cinnamon stick or a slice or orange as a garnish and enjoy
Here’s another Fun Garnish
Local roselle or red hibiscus blossoms are available at area farmers markets in and around Charlotte until we see the first frost. These blooms came from Seven Sisters Farm and are at the SouthEnd Market at Atherton and the Uptown Farmers market.
To make your own candied roselle, use a pairing knife to pop out the seed in the center of the blossom. Reserve. Blend together a mix of equal parts sugar and water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer until the mix forms a syrup. Add the seedless roselle blooms and allow them to steep in the simmering liquid for 15-20 mins. Remove from heat. Cool. Store candied blossoms and syrup in a jar in the refrigerator. For a tasty add on – add 2-3 springs of fresh mint to the syrup as you add the roselle.
Looking for more delicious ways to drink you daily dose of NC Apples?
Check out two of my favorite fall cocktail recipes, both featuring James Creek Cider House in Cameron, NC. The tasting room offers bottles of cider for sale and flights on tap; with outdoor and limited indoor seating, Look at the calendar of events for occasional cellar tours and apple pressing demonstrations.
Owners Ann Marie and David Thorton, pictured above, have been picking and pressing Southern heirloom apples from their home orchard for their award winning ciders since 2016. With over 65 different varieties of heirloom and heritage apples on site, the flavors in their cider are well blended and distinctive in taste and aroma. I love them because they lean more to wine than beer; but these ciders are honestly in a beverage category all their own.
You can find James Creek Ciders around the state at restaurants and bottle shops – or now, if you’d like a bottle ( or two or three) to sip, for gift giving or to make these cocktails at your home bar, you can order direct online for home delivery via UPS.
To craft these two cocktails, other than the cider, you’ll need local honey ( In these recipes I used Cloister Honey’s arbol infused honey) from Charlotte ( also available to order online here) , cinnamon and sugar and cinnamon sticks from the Savory Spice Shop, an orange, an apple, ice and your choice of bourbon, run, vodka or gin. Enjoy!
James Creek’s Stone Fence Cocktail
- 3 Tbsp. , each orange juice and a mix of cinnamon and sugar to coat the rim
- 4 oz your favorite bourbon rye or rum I love keeping it NC local and enjoy this cocktail with TOPO Distillery Eight Oak Whiskey or Muddy River Distillery’s Queen Charlotte rum
- 2 Tbsp. more or less to taste of Saigon Cinnamon and organic sugar available at the Savory Spice Shop
- ice cubes
- James Creek Ciderhouse Stargazer Shooting Star cider to taste
- apple slices and a cinnamon stick for garnish
Begin by dipping the rim of your glass first into the OJ and then into a bit of the cinnamon/sugar mix. Do not twist the glass as you dip. Simply dip in straight in and lift it straight out for a perfect cinnamon and sugar rim.
Pour bourbon and sugar/cinnamon mix into the glass; carefully stir till the sugar melts into the bourbon.
Add ice to the glass; top with the James Creek Stargazer Shooting Star cider.
Garnish with slices of apple and a cinnamon stick to finish. Cheers!
James Creek Orange Harvest Moon
- 4 oz your favorite vodka or gin My local North Carolina go-to’s for this one are TOPO Distillery Vodka Chemist Spirits Navy style Gin, or Sutler’s Distillery Gin
- 2 oz orange juice
- 3 Tbsp. Cloister Honey arbol infused honey
- 2 slices fresh orange seeds removed
- 2 slices fresh apple seeds removed
- 1 candied roselle blossom this is an edible hibiscus flower
Pour vodka, OJ and honey into the glass; stir till the sugar or honey melt.
Add orange and apple slices to the glass. Top with ice
Pour James Creek Cider House Harvest Moon cider to the top of the glass.
Garnish with the candied roselle and, if you would like, a spring or fresh mint. Cheers!