We recently made friends with a couple Canadians who are staying in our neighborhood and after a long night of wine and fire-side chatter about all of the important topics (boys and our allegiance to Trader Joe's wine), they told us they thought it was really weird that Americans start celebrating Thanksgiving like a week ahead of time, with multiple "friendsgivings" and parties and assorted stuffings. At first we were like "yeah you have a point." But then, wait, duh, the reason we do it is obvious: why would you not want to make as much time as possible for endless amounts of turkey, cider, pie, wine, friends, pie, and wine? And also pie. Like duh. That's why we do it. So, to all of our cuties out their having 2, 3, or 4 "Thanksgiving" celebrations, we fully support you.
We had our own pre-Thanksgiving hot cider bar extravaganza this weekend, and it was so much fun and absolutely necessary. We had our two bffls, Camille and Mary over (you may have seen their shining faces in our last friendsgiving post a few weeks ago!) to create a full buffet of hot cider and cider toppings. We had marshmallows and cinnamon and mini-donuts (for garnish!) and caramel corn and there was whiskey and brandy and everything was right in the world. It's probably one of the coziest ways to have a fall celebration, and we'd highly recommend it to anyone who loves hot cider, alcohol, and/or donuts.
Our friends over at 1201 Canal Condominiums invited us to have our cider gathering in one of their luxury condos, and we were like, um, hell yeah! We got to pretend we lived downtown and had new kitchen appliances and tall ceilings and a view of the entire city. It was pretty awesome. If you're feeling in the mood to check out one of their condos (hey, we don't know your life!) take a look at their listings here!
Anyhow, if you're hosting some friends, frenemies, or family this Thanksgiving, consider setting up your own hot cider bar. This could also be easily converted into a hot cocoa station which would be pretty dope later in the winter. We'd just suggest hoarding extra cider or cocoa in a dutch oven over low heat so you can replenish your cider bar with warm cider every half an hour or so. Alternatively, you can just plop down a dang slow-cooker filled with your cider and a ladle straight onto your bar so that you don't have to worry about keeping anything warm at all! Check out a few more tips and tricks we've listed below for making your own hot cider buffet, and have the most *amazing* Thanksgiving, cuties!
DIY Hot Cider Bar
serves 8 - 10
For the cider
- 4 liters unfiltered apple cider
- 6 - 8 cinnamon sticks
Bring your cider and cinnamon sticks to a simmer in a large pot and serve warm. If you're serving out of a heat-safe pitcher, fill your pitcher and keep the remaining cider on the stove over very low heat. If you're using a slow-cooker, place the cider and cinnamon sticks into the slow cooker on high heat at least one hour before your guests arrive. Turn the heat to low to keep warm for the entirety of the party.
You'll want at least 1 (750 ml) bottle of liquor, but we'd recommend giving your guests options. We chose to include whiskey and cognac, but spiced rum even mezcal would also be great. Keep a jigger at your cider station so folks can "spike" their own cider with a shot of liquor if they so desire, or enjoy their cider without any liquor if that's their thing and bless them we envy their strength.
- fresh whipped cream (in a piping bag!)
- cinnamon sticks
- ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves
- miniature donuts (definitely a favorite)
- apple slices
- orange peel
- salted caramel sauce
Simply place your toppings in assorted containers and scatter them around your serving stations. Have fun with it! We had some really cute chalkboard "tags" to write the names of each ingredient, not that it's necessary, but it adds a nice touch.
Copper mugs definitely give the serving station a "wow" factor, but any traditional heat-safe mugs will do, we'd just recommend avoiding our old stand-by, Mason jars, for serving because they don't have handles and don't insulate the beverage very well and glass gets HOT.
We made caramel corn by coating two bags of fresh popped popcorn in a few tablespoons of caramel sundae topping and a little sea salt and it was SO good. You could also consider having a tray of cookies, mini donuts (yes.), or a fruit board on your serving bar.
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