Holiday cocktails: Seriously spiked cider

' I've always been the kind of cook that works with whimsy, unloading ingredients from my shelves and fridge and tossing them into a pot, allowing alchemy to create something delicious. My current tenure at culinary school is teaching me to veer from my impulsive ways, but on Friday I got back to my roots.

Last week, I sent Aaron off to the grocery store, and he decided to purchase some random booze that I swore off in college: Southern Comfort, Goldschlager and Jägermeister. I poked fun at his frat boy ways, swearing to never let him shop alone again, but it turns out that two out of the three made it into this stellar spiked cider recipe. (Sorry Jäger, you're still blacklisted.)

By building on basic holiday flavors, I freestyled, adding in a little of this and a little of that.  Turns out Aaron's shopping misadventure wasn't so bad after all. And if you really want to warm up in this rainy weather, you can go frat boy style and add an extra shot of SoCo. Here's how it's done:


*serves 3

3 cups unfiltered apple juice

2 oz Appleton Rum

1 oz Goldschlager cinnamon liqueur

1 oz Southern Comfort

2 tablespoons Prometheus Springs elixer (This is a mix of lemon and ginger that you can find at Whole Foods. You can also use a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of grated ginger.)

Mulling spices (1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, grated nutmeg, 1 star anise)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Chuck all the ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. (Don't let it boil or you'll start burning off the precious booze!) Turn down the heat and warm for 2 minutes. Serve in colorful holiday mugs, and use a cinnamon stick to garnish if you'd really like to be fancy. Enjoy!