Bristol's cider expert shares recipe for perfect mulled cider

Last updated on Tuesday 23 April 2024

Think of a cup of delicious hot mulled cider, and a number of things might come to mind: twinkly Christmas lights, cute winter fairs, a cosy pub in the beautiful Somerset countryside. But most people don’t know about the wonderfully weird history of this popular yuletide drink. 

Did you know that mulled cider used to be the Christmas drink of choice, long before mulled wine? And do you know about the ancient British tradition called 'wassail', involving mulled cider and hanging bits of toast on a tree? 

These are the many weird and wondering quirks involved in traditional mulled cider! And this winter, you can try this amazing drink for yourself at The Cider Box's special mulled cider experience in the heart of Bristol.

You'll be taking a deep dive into the magical world of this ancient drink, tasting delicious mulled cider recipes, hearing amazing facts, seeing live demonstrations and of course, enjoying a hot glass or two. 


Cider Box Bristol mulled cider tasting experience 2022

What is mulled cider?

Mulled cider is a hot drink, usually made by heating apple cider or juice and infusing it with delicious spices. Warming with a slight kick to it, this drink is traditionally enjoyed as a way of warming up in the cold winter months! 

Mulled cider gets its name from the word ‘mull’ which means to flavour a drink by heating it up and adding spices. 

Different from more well-known mulled wine- mulled cider has been drunk by people in the UK for hundreds of years. This is because apples were more readily available than the harder-to-grow, continental grapes. 


What's the history of mulled cider?

wassail night mulled cider tasting experience history of mulled cider

The history of mulled cider is as quirky and varied as the drink itself! 

Mulled cider comes from the ancient drink called ‘wassail,’ which in old English means ‘to good health.’ 

Wassail was made from roasting apples and was drunk over the festive winter season, especially on ‘Wassail Night,’ where villagers would gather together, hang bits of cider-soaked toast from orchard trees and drink from a communal mulled cider cup. This was usually performed as a way of blessing the apple trees, in order to have a bountiful harvest the following year.

Wassail Night still takes place on the twelfth night of Christmas, typically on January 5th.

You can still attend Wassail evenings, where you can catch many people in the South West happily hanging pieces of toast on their favourite branches and enjoying a hot cup of mulled cider. 


How do you make mulled cider?

mulled cider tasting experience in Bristol with the Cider Box and Yuup for Christmas experiences

To understand a bit more about how to make the perfect cup of mulled cider, I thought I would ask the experts.

Here is Dan, owner of The Cider Box, to give us his top tips on how to make mulled cider and the best mulling spices to use:


1. Use good cider-tannic, wild yeast-fermented local juice as a base. No supermarket nonsense!

2. Core spices should be cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom, and if you're feeling modern, some juniper- basically winter warmers!

3. Go easy on the sugar- it's easier to make the mulled cider sweeter, but much harder to make it drier. Brown sugar or honey to sweeten.

4. Heat it on the hob, but don't let it boil- alcohol boils at 78 degrees, which is lower than water. It's important to ensure the merrymaking can happen!

5. Enjoy with friends outside, with the traditional toast 'wassail!' which is old English for 'to good health,' and commonly heard around orchards and villages in winter.


Where can you try mulled cider?

Mulled cider tasting experience in Bristol for Christmas with Yuup and The Cider Box

If you’re keen to hear more about the fascinating history behind this quirky drink, I recommend visiting The Cider Box for their amazing mulled cider experience

In this experience, you’ll be hearing about mulled cider’s magical traditions, plus get to witness a live demonstration of how they used to make it in the old days. Expect barrels of cider, spices and a sizzling hot poker! 

The cherry on top of this apple is the tasty board of paired artisan cheeses. What could be more perfect for a cold winter’s day? See you there. Wassail!


🍺 Mulled cider tasting at The Cider Box: £14 per person


To find out more and to book tickets, click here

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