Home Spice: Mulled Apple Cider Rum

by Matt Robold on January 21, 2008

In my Fun With Infusions post a few months ago, I talked about my first few forays in to the world of creating homemade spice – aka homemade rum infusions.  Since that time I’ve tinkered onward, still striving to find something I could make and say, “See that?  See how good that is?  That’s cause it’s MINE!”

During the holiday season I take to drinking a lot of hot, mulled cider.  It’s one of my favorite traditions.  I love the taste, the smell…the whole process of creating a nice warm cider drink that can then be enhanced with rum.  It’s terrific.  So some time in December the thought struck me:  Why not combine my love of tinkering with rum with my love of tinkering with cider and create my own cider infusion?

I was on a mission.  I was excited – energized with the idea of doing a new project that I had never heard of anyone doing before.  I dove into the Knower of All That Is Knowable (you call it the Internet) and began researching apple infusions, cinnamon, etc.  I scoured around and found some interesting articles on apple infusions for vodka over at Infusions of Grandeur.   As I took my notes though, I stumbled across something that was a little alarming:  they had already had the same idea (but with vodka)!

I was heartbroken…crestfallen…and all sorts of other things that were not happiness.  I mean, it seemed cool that the two scienticians had the same idea that I did…but at the same time, I was hoping to do something groundbreaking, or at least something to reaffirm what my mom had told me all those years: that I was special in a non-shortbus kind of way.

I shelved my idea and figured I’d come back to it after the IOG folks had finished their experiment.  When they had, they posted that their creation was a rousing success.  I consulted with a few other rum infusion enthusiasts for some other ideas on infusing apple into rum, and got started on my own infusion.

The IOG guys took 10 days to do their infusion, so I figured I’d adhere to their schedule.  Over 10 days I constantly replaced the apple wedges in the rum blend (a blend of Appleton Special Gold and Wray & Nephew Overproof White) – alternating between Honeycrisp and Red Delicious apples instead of the green apples used in the IOG experiment.  I don’t have a very good reason for this other than I prefer red apples to green…and my favorite cider is made from red apples, so I figured that was the way to go.

I also monkeyed with their formula for when to add and remove the cinnamon sticks.  I like a good cinnamon bite in my ciders, so I left the stick in an extra day and then re-added it a day early as well.  I also added a few pieces of orange peel to the mixture when I added the orange wedge (which was cut, not just pulled from the orange), as well as a tablespoon of honey and a pinch of vanilla powder.

Any time I checked on my progress, I was greeted with a wonderful smell that just encompassed the room and made me want to grab a jug of cider and my spices and make some hot mulled cider right then and there.

Sunday was the day.  I had reminders set on my phone for each of the stages, and at around 8 pm last night, my phone dinged to indicate that the rum was done.  I don’t think the tone had even ceased to chime from the speaker before I was in the kitchen to move the finished rum to it’s final jar.

Finished Cider RumWhen I arrived at the counter, I grabbed the blending jar and examined it’s rummy, fruity contents.  The apples were potent and wonderfully scented as I pulled them from the rum.  It almost felt like a waste to throw them away, but I wouldn’t be needing them anymore.  I fished them out with a fork, followed by the orange slice, the orange peel, and the cinnamon stick.

I then placed my usual cheesecloth over the newly washed “finishing jar” (I can’t think of anything else to call it…I do have bottles on-order so that I can serve this to guests without the backwoods, moonshine feeling), and poured the completed product into the jar.  The cheesecloth caught the small bits of sediment that had formed, as well as the 3 nutmeg seeds.  Once the first jar was empty, I squeezed what liquid I could out of the cheesecloth before tossing it into the dustbin of history.

Moment of Truth

The rum complete, it was time to do the real acid test: pouring some down my gullet.

I pulled out one of my glasses that I use for my rum reviews, poured about 2 ounces in and swirled it around.  I took a whiff of the nose and was greeted with holiday goodness.  There was sweet apple, followed quickly by nutmeg and cinnamon and just a hint of citrus.  It was almost exactly what my kitchen smells like when I make mulled cider on the stove.

My excitement was at it’s peak, and it was time to taste.  Neither of the rums I used are sipping rums, so I had prepared myself to be a little disappointed with a neat tasting.  Disappointment never came.  About the only thing I could think of that was disappointing was that the drink wasn’t piping hot.  It tasted like my apple rum punch.  It was sweet and spicy and warm.

I ran over to Mrs. Dood, prancing about in a fashion reminiscent of a giddy school-dood.  Mrs. Dood does not drink things neat, so I regret to say that she did not taste the goodness in my glass.  She did, however, take a good sniff and was visibly shaken by how close the smell was to the real thing.  “Oh my goodness…this is wonderful!  This smells just like the stuff you make on the stove!”

High praise from the only source needed, I moved on to test #2: I needed to figure out a cocktail for this concoction.  I dove in to our liquor cabinet and pondered all the possibilities.  There are a lot.  My mind swam with ideas for using various liqueurs or other liquors until I finally settled on something simple.  I added another ounce to my glass (giving me about 2 ounces I suspect), added ice, and a quarter ounce of Butterscotch Schnapps.  I swirled the contents of my glass for a second or two to help mix the ingredients and took a taste of my rum caramel apple drink.  Sweet, with some good spice on the back end to give it just a bit of complexity.  It’s not anything special or deserving of a spot on a bar menu, but it sure tasted good to me.

Knowing that this was something my wife would appreciate, I convinced Mrs. Dood to try my caramel apple drink.

“Oooooooh!  Honey, this is good.  This is really good.  I would totally drink this.”

And that, as they say, is that.  The only thing left for me to do is start buying rums in bulk and mass-producing this before I get sued by IOG and end up filing for bankruptcy and eventually end up in jail because my CFO embezzled about $300,000 from the company and framed me for it.  At least as I sit in my cell I can think about how to infuse some good prison wine.

Next up on the infusion list:  Mrs. Dood’s Blackberry Beauty

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