Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner: Sparkling Spiced Apple Cider

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

Thanksgiving….poor holiday. It’s practically looked over nowadays, what with Christmas only a month later.

Now, this year, Black Friday (the biggest sale/shopping day if the year here in the states) is even encroaching on the day. Black Friday always falls on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a day of supposed huge sales and markdowns leading up to Christmas, and it’s usually only for the day, sometimes for the weekend (I say supposed because I’m not a Black Friday shopper, so I can’t speak from experience).

This year, Black Friday has pushed it’s way onto Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas is being a total holiday hog (it’s actually pretty disgusting…really).

That’s what I love about blogging, particularly food blogging.

We food bloggers never miss an occasion to make treats, so Thanksgiving gets it’s time in the spotlight with us. What with our amazing pumpkin cakes, adorable cupcakes, darling scarecrow cookies, irresistible mac n cheese, candy mixes and printables, and Autumn themed rice crispy treats…we’ve got your back Thanksgiving!

It’s like The Night They Saved Christmas…only Thanksgiving…and over weeks, not just one night. But it’s practically the same thing, and all because of us food bloggers. You can thank us after the tryptophan wears off.

But just in case you find yourself in the middle of the mall, being swarmed by the Black Friday (on Thursday) crowds, how about a little cocktail?

Or maybe it’s your first time having the whole family to your place for the holiday, and you’re cooking everything for everyone with overly critical Aunt Ruthie breathing down your neck?

Here, have a drink.

I’m not a big drinker, so the fact that I made this drink up from scratch, and it’s incredibly delicious, is something of a minor miracle.

I made this at the last minute, for the heck of it. I got the urge to taste something Autumnal and grown up. What’s more Autumnal than spiced, or mulled, cider? And what’s more grown up than vodka??

Why not put them together?

There is no reason why not. Trust me on this one.

Oh yeah, and P.S. This can be made kid friendly by simply omitting the vodka. And, AND! It’s vegan/dairy free, and gluten free.



**Double check your vodka and orange juice to make sure it’s gluten free and vegan.**

One more thing…those glittery coasters? Paper doilies + glue stick + glitter = oh my cute coasters.

There’s a little bit of cooking involved in this, but it’s quick and easy, and the result is the syrup that makes this drink spiced.

Before mixing the drinks, use the spiced syrup to rim the glasses.

Once you’ve dipped the rim of the glass into the syrup, coat it with sprinkles, sanding sugar, or cinnamon-sugar. I used Wilton gold sugar.

I seriously love this drink, you guys. It tastes just like mulled cider, except better. I’ve never been a spiced cider fan…something about hot apple cider just didn’t do it for me, but this stuff is fantastic. I love it chilled and the bubbles from the sparkling cider make it something special.

We’re talking mulled cider here, so expect this to be sweet…good and sweet, but also spicy, and a touch tart…and completely perfect.

Do you ever create something and think, “Well, this might be pretty good. We’ll see,” then you finish it and view/try on/taste it and you’re all like, “Holy wow! Did I really just make this up all by myself? Cause it’s flipping wonderful!” Yeah? You do that, too? That’s what happened here.

I made this on a whim; whipped it up from guesstimates and sounds-good-to-me’s…and it’s abso-freaking-lutely delicious.

I love it when that happens.

And if you go make this, now, you will, too.

Go. Make. Enjoy!

Sparkling Spiced Cider [Printable Version]
Makes 4 servings


**1 shot equals 1.5 ounces (35 ml)**

1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) orange juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

4  shots (6 ounces, or 188 ml) chilled vodka (omit for kid-friendly version)
16 shots (24 ounces, or 700 ml) chilled sparkling cider

Combine the sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves in a small saucepan set over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is the consistency of syrup. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Allow to cool completely.

Use the syrup to rim 4 glasses, then dip the glasses into a sugar mixture (sanding sugar or cinnamon-sugar).

Add 1 shot of the syrup to each glass. Stir in 1 shot of vodka, then add 4 shots of sparkling cider per glass. Stir gently and serve.

For a stronger drink, increase the vodka to 2 shots per glass, and reduce the cider to 3 shots.

Recipe by Darla

Leave a comment


  1. Kim says

    Thanksgiving is very much the food holiday. Just as food bloggers concentrate on Thanksgiving themed posts (and I give thanks that you do (see what I did there? Ha! I crack myself up)), so too do only food retailers and baking product companies have Thanksgiving commercials. And that’s why little ol’ foodie me has the only Thanksgiving decorations in the company. My sweet little banner and sparkly leaves have since been swamped by multitudes of poinsettas, but they are not coming down until Monday. Thanksgiving-ers unite!

    Btdubs- the sparkling apple cider is a stroke of genius. I’m so making this for the after-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving with the sister-in-law.

  2. says

    With all the rush, the stress and all the holiday preparations…We need to pause and have a drink sometime in between. I say, how about right now? Thanks for this cocktail treat…makes me enjoy the holidays more! Have a great holiday celebration! Happy Thanksgiving! =)

  3. says

    These look gorgeous!
    Have been looking for Mulled Cider / Wine recipes since coming home from Copenhagen last week, as they have stell everywhere selling Glogg (their version of mulled wine ) and i couldn’t get enough of it!

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving! 🙂

    • Karen says

      We have plain cider (similar to apple juice) that’s called cider. When it’s distilled, the portion that is alcohol is called “hard cider.” I think that’s what’s similar to your cider.