Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

7 of the best spirits for spiked apple cider

Add a twist to your apple cider with one of these spirits

Glass mug with spiked apple cider
Steidi / Adobe Stock

There’s nothing better than a wintery and blustery day. Just kidding; there is, actually. It’s called spiked apple cider and booze. You know the kind where you take spices and apple cider, then heat it, and after it gets to a nice hot temperature mix in your favorite spirits? Sit in your favorite chair and just sip the cold away.

Speaking of cold, you can definitely make your own concoction to ease the symptoms of the common cold — it’s called a hot toddy. Sick or not, it’s delicious and may keep that cold at bay. In the meantime, we put together a list of some of the best spirits for those cold winter nights. But these aren’t just for winter, you can enjoy these drinks year-round, as they can either be made into spiked hot apple cider or cold spiked apple cider cocktails. Consider them the adult’s apple juice, and no matter if you decide on a hot or cold cocktail, you’re going to enjoy it.

One little tiny disclaimer, though: Some of these spirits make a decent cocktail but are also perfect for sipping on their own. While we could tell you to mix the apple cider with some of the most expensive whiskies, it would be a waste because those need to be (or should be) enjoyed on their own.

Bottle of Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum with a white background.
Sailor Jerry

These are the best spirits for apple cider

The best rum

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum has bold flavors of cloves and cinnamon spice finished with vanilla and oak and is light on sweetness. At times, you can pick up hints of toffee and caramel, which would be perfect with hot apple cider.

Wild Turkey Longbranch bourbon whiskey with a white background.
Wild Turkey

The best bourbon

Eight-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon, Longbranch Bourbon Whiskey touches on Texas Mesquite and oak charcoals with notes of caramel and pear and finishes smoky and smooth.

Bottle of knob creek rye whiskey with a white background.
Knob Creek

The best whiskey

Knob Creek Rye Whiskey is 100-proof rye that ranges in color from gold to dark honey. It has a sweet, herbal, and fruity taste that smells oaky with a slightly earthy undertone.

Bottle of Crystal Head vodka with a white background.
Crystal Head

The best vodka

As with most quality vodka, Crystal Head Vodka is neutral in smell, but the finish is nothing but. The distillation process includes a seven-time filtration process through Herkimer diamonds that leaves the vodka smooth and creamy with a touch of sweetness and vanilla.

bottle of Tanqueray gin with a white background.

The best gin

If you’re a fan of gin, then you’ll really enjoy this Tanqueray cocktail. This gin features familiar notes of juniper berries, licorice, and grapefruit.

Bottle of Buffalo Trace white dog mash #1 with a white background.
Buffalo Trace

The best moonshine

It may be Kentucky whiskey, better known as moonshine. This Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1 has a spicy start and finishes with flavors of popcorn, toasted grains, and apples.

Bottle of Don Julio blanco tequila with a white background.
Don Julio

The best tequila

Think about taking Don Julio Blanco Tequila and making an apple cider margarita. On its own, Don Julio’s silver tequila is a taste of Mexico in every sip. Add a bit of apple cider to this already crisp, citrusy, and agave-tasting tequila, and you have yourself a tart and refreshing cocktail.

Hot apple cider
Sea Wave / Shutterstock

How to make a spiked apple cider

No matter what type of spirit is your go-to, the base of spiked apple cider recipes remains the same. It’s all about the spices, and of course, the apple cider. The earthy spices give apple cider its depth and complexity. Here is an easy apple cider recipe for two people using a 12-ounce mug (6 ounces per person).


  • Spices (see below)
  • 17 ounces apple cider
  • 3 ounces (give or take) of your spirit of choice


  1. Combine the apple cider and spices. Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the spices.
  4. Place the hot apple cider into two mugs, leaving room for the spirit.
  5. Add the spirit and stir.
  6. Garnish with an orange wedge, apple slice, or nothing at all.

These are some of the best spices you can put into your spiked cider:

  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Allspice
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Ginger

If you want to make a batch of cider, you can adjust the recipe and use a slow cooker or your crockpot on low heat. If you’re in a hurry, you can even use an Instant Pot and have it ready in no time. Looking for something cold? Keep reading, we’ve got you covered.

Hard cider
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Apple cider Long Island iced tea

A longtime bar staple gets an apple upgrade in this recipe from Delish. This one takes most of the spirits we’ve discussed and combines them into a great cocktail for those fall parties.


  • 1/2 small apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce light rum
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Lemon wedge for garnish
  • Cinnamon stick for garnish


  1. Fill a tall glass with ice and apple slices.
  2. Combine all other ingredients into a shaker filled with ice.
  3. Shake until chilled.
  4. Strain into glass.
  5. Garnish with the lemon wedge and the cinnamon stick.

Editors' Recommendations

Nate Swanner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
Our 4 favorite mezcals for sipping
Four great sipping mezcals

If you’re even the most basic drinker, you probably know a little bit about tequila. This agave-based spirit is popular for sipping neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a variety of cocktails, including the classic Margarita, Paloma, and Ranch Water. But mezcal, on the other hand, might be a bit of a mystery.

When thinking about mezcal, a good idea is to think of it like this: all tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. That is to say that mezcal is the umbrella term used for all agave-based Mexican spirits. Tequila is simply a type of mezcal. It’s made with a specific set of rules. It must be made only with Blue Weber agave in Jalisco (where the town of Tequila is located) and a handful of other states.

Read more
Our 6 favorite rum brands and bottles in 2024
Buy these rum bottles in 2024
Rum drink

When it comes to spirits perfect for sipping neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a cocktail, many drinkers tend to look at whiskey immediately. But if your second choice isn’t rum, you’re missing out. White rum is a fantastic base for daiquiris, mojitos, and other drinks; spiced rum is excellent for tropical-centric Tiki-style drinks and for giving your drink a little extra spice, and dark, aged rum is perfect for slow sipping neat or on the rocks.

For the uninitiated, rum is a spirit made by fermenting and distilling sugarcane juice or molasses. It’s then either bottled immediately (or lightly aged) and sold as white rum, has spices added to create spiced rum or is aged in charred oak barrels like your favorite single malt scotch whisky, bourbon, or rye whiskey. We sipped on and mixed with a lot of rum in 2023, and we’ll do the same this year.

Read more
These are bartenders’ favorite value single malt Scotch whiskies (all under $100)
Bartenders tell us the best value single malt scotch whiskies

If you don’t know much about single malt Scotch whisky (only the US and Ireland use the ‘e’ in whiskey), you might have some preconceived notions about its price. Like with any whisk(e)y, there are many uncomfortably expensive bottles of single malt whisky. There are also countless flavorful, reasonably-priced bottles. That’s what we’re most interested in today.

When we talk about value, we specifically talk about complex, rich, sippable single malt whiskies priced under $100. And these under $100 (and often much less) gems aren’t from lesser-known brands. They’re award-winning expressions from some of the most respected distilleries in Scotland.

Read more