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Hot Apple Cider Cocktail

This spiked hot apple cider cocktail disappears every time I make it. It’s quick and easy to make, and the flavor is perfect for any cold weather day or night.

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Sometimes I love a fun cocktail like a chocolate martini or a pomegranate fizz, but sometimes I want something warm and comforting with a little warm spice.

Hot apple cider rum in a cocktail glass topped by a cinnamon stick.

I make this both in my Instant Pot and in my slow cooker, depending on how organized I feel. It works equally well both ways, and the instructions include both methods.

If you want to make homemade fresh apple cider, you can absolutely do that. I tend to just purchase a gallon of cider from the store and work with that, and that works as long as I start with yummy apple cider.

Mug of spiked apple cider topped with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick.

What if I don’t have cinnamon sticks?

Yes, apple cider – especially unfiltered apple cider which I recommend you use – already has some cinnamon in it. However, you definitely want to add more cinnamon infusion to this if you can.

Cinnamon sticks aren’t very expensive to purchase, and they make a gorgeous addition to the decoration of your glass, as well. If you don’t have them, you can still make this.

Instead of the cinnamon stick, you can use 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon instead. Or leave it out all together if you truly have no cinnamon.

Can I dress up my hot apple cider cocktail with anything else?

Yes, you absolutely can! To keep this recipe simple, I use orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves to boost the flavor.

However, you can definitely play around with this recipe. If you have fresh oranges, cut up two and add orange slices to your mixture before you heat it.

You can also add just the orange zest. Use your microplane zester, and make sure you don’t add any of the bitter white pith.

In addition to orange slices, try adding some apple slices, too. This helps add some depth of flavor, especially if you use a few different kinds of apples like Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, or Jonathan apples.

Try using four to five cardamom pods with the other spices. Cardamom is a fantastic flavor that works beautifully with this.

You can also add one to two teaspoons of vanilla extract or a vanilla bean pod. Or try cutting off an inch of fresh ginger.

These are all options that add a fun depth of flavor, but none of them are necessary to enjoy a delicious cocktail.

What alcohol should I use for my spiked apple cider?

My favorite alcohol is rum, but you can make this apple cider cocktail with other spirits, as well. You want to hold to approximately the same ratio, so just make a one for one substitute.

Mug of hot apple cider cocktail with cinnamon sticks and a jar of more behind it.

Some suggestions include:

  • Bourbon
  • Whiskey
  • Cognac
  • Apple brandy
  • Ginger beer (to make a non-alcoholic drink)

What is the best rum for this hot apple cider cocktail?

You want a rum you enjoy drinking. Just like with wine, you don’t want to buy the cheapest one but one that tastes good.

Ideally, you want to use a spiced rum for the same reason you add the spices to your apple cider before you heat it. I’m sure most people immediately think Captain Morgan’s, but the private label spiced rum Costco sells is perfect for this.

If you have a Jamaican rum, by all means use it here.

However, you do not want to use a coconut rum, so skip the Malibu. The same holds true for other flavored rums.

Why do you add whipped cream to your spiked apple cider?

I mean, of course I add whipped cream because it tastes amazing with the whipped cream. That said, some friends prefer it straight up with no topping.

Holding a hot apple cider in front of a fire.

The whipped cream adds a creaminess to the apple cider cocktail without being overpoweringly sweet or rich. It’s the perfect complement, so go ahead and try it.

ln addition, it makes for a beautiful presentation where you can add an extra cinnamon stick or even a drizzle of caramel if you want to get super fancy.

Can I make this cocktail in advance?

You absolutely can make your hot rum apple cider in advance. In fact, I prefer to infuse all the flavors into my apple cider ahead of time and keep it warm or reheat it when it’s time to serve it.

That said, if you have leftovers somehow, you can store it in an airtight container. Gently reheat it, and add a little more rum if you need to.

Why don’t I add the alcohol until the end?

Do not add the rum to your cocktail until just before you serve it, however. Alcohol evaporates readily, so hold off there.

If you add the alcohol to your apple cider before you heat it, especially if you use a slow cooker and keep it warm for an extended period.

I prefer to add the alcohol straight to the apple cider mixture rather than adding it to glasses. It’s faster and easier, and I don’t have to worry about adding too much or too little.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you absolutely can. And I have. I need to sometimes.

The first time I made it, I served it to neighbors for Halloween, and no one got seconds, though several asked for more. Oops.

If you double it, you do not need to change the cook time.

How to Make This Hot Apple Cider Cocktail

Add your apple cider and orange juice to your Instant Pot or slow cooker. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and salt to the apple cider mixture.

There’s no need to stir. Seal your Instant Pot or cover your slow cooker.

Cook on high pressure in your Instant Pot for 0 minutes or at least an hour on low. You can keep the apple cider mixture warm for hours with either method, if necessary.

Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add the rum to your hot cider, and stir briefly.

Adding rum to spiked apple cider in a pot.

Serve immediately in heat safe glasses. Top with whipped cream, or garnish with orange wheels or apple slices or an additional cinnamon stick.

Save this hot apple cider cocktail to make again!

Hot apple cider rum in a cocktail glass topped by a cinnamon stick.

Hot Apple Cider Cocktail

This simple cocktail recipe is perfect on any cold weather day. It has a warm spiciness that is absolutely perfect every time.
4.82 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Diet: Low Lactose
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes
Servings: 9 cups
Calories: 160kcal
Author: Michelle


  • 7 cups unfiltered apple cider
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup spiced rum


For the Instant Pot:

  • Add apple cider and orange juice to inner liner. Place cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and salt over it.
    7 cups unfiltered apple cider, 1 cup orange juice, 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 whole cloves, 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Seal Instant Pot and set to cook at high pressure for 0 minutes.
  • Let natural release fully.
  • Strain out solids. Add rum, and stir briefly.
    1 cup spiced rum
  • Serve immediately. Top with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick, or garnish with apple and orange slices, as desired.

For the slow cooker:

  • Add apple cider and orange juice to slow cooker. Place cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and salt over it.
  • Cover and cook on low for an hour.
  • Strain out solids. Add rum, and stir briefly.
  • Serve immediately. Top with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick, or garnish with apple and orange slices, as desired.
  • In either case, you can keep warm without adding the alcohol for a few hours. Do not remove the lid to prevent excess evaporation.


  • You can make this non-alcoholic or swap out the rum for bourbon, cognac, and more if you prefer.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Sodium: 126mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Cocktail glass of cider with cinnamon stick on top and text Apple Cider Winter Cocktail.

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