Warm Bourbon-Spiked Apple Cider

Copper mug of bourbon-spiked cider with apple garnish

Full disclosure? I’m not much of a bourbon gal. I leave that to my husband, whose family comes from Kentucky, birthplace of bourbon. I decided to come up with a warm winter cocktail for him, one that we could brew up during the holidays or after a day on the slopes. This Warm Bourbon-Spiked Apple Cider is so appealing and cozy, it got me rethinking bourbon. It’s a true winter winner.

How to Make Warm Bourbon-Spiked Apple Cider

Master mixologist I’m not, but I can get behind a simple cocktail like this one. It starts with spiced apple cider. You can use a cider that comes already spiced (such as the one from Trader Joes) or make your own using apple cider and mulling spices. Bump up the flavor a bit more by simmering it with star anise and a cinnamon stick. Then, pour over bourbon in a mug and garnish with a thin slice of apple. That’s it.

copper mug of spiced cider

Great without Booze, Too

One of the reasons people reach for alcohol when it’s cold out is that it gives the sensation of warmth by increasing the flow of blood to the surface. But this is a perfectly pleasurable drink without a drop of bourbon. If you’re making it booze-free, you can add a teaspoon of butter or a spoonful of whipped cream to make it feel a touch more special. (Side note: lt’s worth noting that although alcohol may make you feel warm, drink too much and it can actually decrease the body’s core temperature).

What Type of Bourbon to Buy

I’m no expert in bourbon, but I imagine most any bourbon you enjoy will do the job in this drink. That said, I’d save your bespoke brands for another use. You may want to peruse this review of recommended brands, including budget-friendly ideas. I also have a soft spot for Freeland, an all-female band of talented booze-makers (full disclosure, I was so impressed with the women behind the brand, I invested in the company).

warm bourbon-spiked cider

If you like this Warm Bourbon-Spiked Apple Cider, check out:

Mezcal Hot Chocolate

Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream Hearts

Homemade Syrup of Cold or Hot Chocolate

Easy Chai

Hot Bourbon Spiced Cider

This cozy winter cocktail takes minutes to make and will warm you on the coldest nights. If you want an additional bump of flavor, add a packet of mulling spice to the cider as it brews. Feel free to scale up the recipe, making it in a bigger batch to serve a crowd.

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 mug
Calories 218 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 1 cup spiced apple cider
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (scale back to 1 ounce for a lighter brew)
  • Optional garnish: 1 thin round slice apple cut crosswise from the center of an apple (it should be smaller than the diameter of the mug)


  1. In a saucepan over high heat, bring the spiced apple cider, star anise, and cinnamon to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes to infuse the cider with additional flavor.

  2. While the cider is heating, pour the bourbon into a mug. Fill the mug with the hot cider. Set the apple slice on the top of the cider, where it will float.
  3. Makes 1 mug

Thank you to my intern Kristin Rose, who helped develop this recipe and post.


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