How enticing is a steamy, spicy hot cup on Bonfire Night to warm the soul (and the fingers)? 

Mulled wine is too Christmassy, so I prefer to brew up something more autumnal on  5 November, and throughout the winter months too.

Make the base an apple one instead, using decent cider and apple brandy  at the core (sorry). I use medium (not bone-dry) cider in a hot punch – it tastes softer and juicier. Use a good-quality, glass-bottled one, such as those below.


For four drinks, gently warm up a litre or so of cider in a large pan with just two or three cloves, two cinnamon sticks broken in half, some slices of ripe orange, and of fresh green and red apples,  and a good dash – about 100ml – of Calvados/apple brandy.

To sweeten the mix, dollop in some honey, sieved marmalade or (and this is good) the sticky, peppery syrup from a jar of stem ginger.

Bring to just below simmering point, but don’t boil or all the alcohol will whoosh off into the night like a rocket.

Serve in thick glass tumblers if you have them.

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