Mulling Spices for Wine or Cider
8 to 10 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
6 to 8 whole cardamom pods
3 star anise
Add spices to 1 750 ml bottle of dry red wine (like cabernet sauvignon or merlot) with a slice of lemon and orange. If you like it sweet add 2/3 cup honey.
If you have in time and inclination, you can also make your own liquers. I found these three receipes in my files and tried the first one with great success.
Many wonderful drinks had their beginnings in medieval monastic gardens and stillrooms. They're easy to make, but they do take time to age. If you start now, you'll be offering your liqueur New Years’ Eve guests and still have some to serve at spring events. To ensure that your liqueurs are worth the time it takes to make them, use the best ingredients, store in glass or ceramic containers, and age in a cool dark spot.
2 pints blackberries or raspberries
1 cup fresh rose geranium leaves
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine Syrup:
1 cup sugar
½ cup water Combine the berries, geranium leaves, vodka, and wine in a wide-mouth jar with a tight-fitting lid. Steep for one month in a cool, dark place. Open and crush the berries slightly with a potato masher and steep for another 4-5 days. Strain, pressing the juice from the berries, then filter through a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth. To make the syrup, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Cool. Add half the syrup to the liqueur; taste, then continue to add and taste until it is as sweet as you like. Pour into a bottle, cap it, and age in a cool, dark place for three weeks to three months. Makes about 1½ quarts.
8 ripe pears, juiced (about 4 cups pear juice)
2-inch piece ginger root, peeled, sliced
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 stick Cinnamon
1/2 Nutmeg, grated
3 cups Brandy
2 Tbls. sliced Mandarin Orange peel
3 cups Rum
1 cup white sugar
½ cup water
Bruise the cloves and cinnamon and tie, with the nutmeg, in a muslin bag. Place the muslin bag, brandy, orange peel and rum in a clean, sterilized jar and seal. Allow to infuse for one month, shaking the jar gently every day. Strain the liqueur through muslin. Boil the water and sugar until very thick, then combine with the liqueur. Decant into dry, sterilized bottles and seal.