Hanlin said cider is perfect for the holidays because of the harvesting season of the apple.
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"I believe the original conception of cider as a fall and winter beverage goes all the way back to wassailing in old England," she said. "And wassail was traditionally a hard drink."
Although cider is usually treated as a drink, Hanlin said cider is versatile.
"Cider can be used in savory and in sweet cooking," she said. "It works well in a brine for meat, as a component in braising liquid or reduction, or in a chilled soup."
This recipe uses nonalcoholic apple juice, but there is an option to add rum after the cider is heated and spiced.
— Chris Copley, assistant Lifestyle editor
Mulled apple cider
1 gallon apple cider
1 scant cup raw ginger, peeled & julienned
10 cinnamon sticks
10 star anise pods
1 teaspoon whole clove
2 teaspoons juniper berries
1 vanilla bean
2 fat strips lemon zest
2 twists cracked black pepper
2 cups dark rum, optional
Bring cider to a boil. Add remaining ingredients except rum, and reduce heat to produce a low but steady simmer.
After an hour and a half, strain the cider and keep warm to serve.
If desired, add rum and allow to simmer for a minute or more, to taste, to take the edge off the alcohol, and serve.
Serves 12 to 16.
— Courtesy of Alisha Hanlin of Pressed Flour in Shepherdstown, W.Va. To contact here, call 304-224-8951 or email email@example.com.