Should You Add Booze To Cider Before You Warm It Up? Experts Weigh In

The amount of booze you add to your apple cider is completely up to you — there's no wrong answer, as long as your liver can handle it. When to add the spirits (preferably dark) to your apple cider base, however, might be a different story. Mashed consulted a few experts to help steer folks in the right direction.

According to them, when you add your booze depends on which type you're using. Kavé Pourzanjani, co-owner of Paradise Lost in Manhattan's East Village, likened the decision to a "choose your own adventure" situation. "If I were making a cider and sherry, I'd likely add the sherry after so that the more delicate notes of the sherry could be more present," he told Mashed. He then explained that if he was making a rum and cider, "I'd add the rum first so that the richness of the rum can contribute to the spices of the cider without overwhelming my tastebuds with alcohol."

According to Pourzanjani, adding liquor before the cider is warm will better meld the flavors — and lower the alcohol's proof. Haera Shin, beverage director of New York's Momofuku Noodle Bar and LA's Majordomo, agreed with this timeline, saying, "The key is not to let it heat up to boiling and if so, not to let it boil for more than 30 minutes, as it will lose 10% ABV for every 30 minutes it is at boiling state."

Keeping the alcohol separate accommodates more people

Conversely, there are some valid reasons you might want to keep the liquor and cider apart during heating. Max Green, the bar director at New York's Point Seven, claimed that, while steeping cider and alcohol together creates a better flavor profile, keeping the two separate for as long as possible is the way to go. "For one important reason," he said. "You now have the option to accommodate someone who is not drinking that day or evening." Suzanne DeStio, sommelier and beverage director at One White Street in Manhattan, agreed that keeping the alcohol separate from the heated cider is the better option. "I always recommend adding the booze to the glass or mug first so it doesn't get 'cooked,'" she said. "Warm the cider separately and steep in any additional spices you like, [and] then add on top of your spirit of choice."

As you can likely surmise, there's no cut-and-dry answer for when to add spirits to your cider. You may want to experiment with a few methods to determine which works better not only for you but for any guests you're hosting for the holidays. And if cider proves too tricky, you can always grab a few cartons of store-bought eggnog on your way home and leave the apples for next season.