When I lived in the United States, I developed an addiction to hot apple cider. I relied on powder mixes (Alpine, Mott's and so on) - just adding hot water to the content of a package...

Now I'm back to Italy, and I need to make the hot spiced apple cider myself.

The first problem, in Italy is difficult to find apple cider. I've found only French cider from Brittany or Normandy, which is the fermented alcoholic drink.


  • which version of apple cider should I ideally use?
  • can I use the French cider instead?
  • can I just use non-alcoholic apple juice instead of the cider?

Edit: it seems that a source of misunderstanding is the word cider, that may indicate different drinks. In the USA it may be a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice, or an unfiltered apple juice. Which one should be used to make hot spiced apple cider?

  • 1
    Hot apple cider in the USA is generally made with non-fermented, unfiltered apple juice, although you can make it with alcoholic apple cider ("hard cider") as well.
    – FuzzyChef
    Dec 18, 2011 at 7:36

6 Answers 6


According to Wikipedia, apple cider (US usage) is different from apple juice (US usage) in that:

"Apple juice and apple cider are both fruit beverages made from apples, but there is a difference between the two. Fresh cider is raw apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process to remove coarse particles of pulp or sediment. Apple juice is juice that has been filtered to remove solids and pasteurized so that it will stay fresh longer.

Or, in translation, "apple cider" is apple juice; "apple juice" is filtered apple juice.

So in Italy you should look for brands of apple juice with words like "with bits" or "unfiltered" on the label.

  • Well, when I was in the USA, I frequently drank alcoholic cider. Also wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cider) says that cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice. So, if I understand correctly, the word "cider" may indicate both the alcoholic drink and the unfiltered apple juice. Is that true? And, in the end, which one should I use for the hot spiced apple cider?
    – Wizard79
    Dec 14, 2011 at 22:14
  • 1
    The packages, however, always make a non-alcoholic apple beverage. So to duplicate that, you'd need the unfiltered apple juice. Or, just buy whatever apple juice you can get, and heat it up with a cinnamon stick or two. Dec 14, 2011 at 23:47
  • 1
    At the end of the day there's no "should". If you want alcoholic mulled cider, start with cider ("hard cider" in US English). If you want something akin to what you were making from a packet, use unfiltered apple juice ("cider" in US English).
    – slim
    Dec 15, 2011 at 10:45

You could try making your own. Pressing apples isnt that hard to do, but you require a descent amount to make it worth while. Ideally try and find someone with an orchard and ask if you can pick some, however it is very late in the season now and here in the UK at least you would probably be out of luck.

Alternativly just buy the best apple juice you can find, here in the UK we have a brand called Coppella which is high quality and not filtered (well, it contains sediment at least) which would probably work for this purpose.

But if you ask anyone in Europe for cider you will get an alcoholic drink, which can be served warm and spiced (it is around here at any rate).

And yes french cider is ok, but as vwiggins mentions you need to be careful of dry ciders - they will need extra sweetening.

I personally recommend Somerset cider if you can get it and strongly recommend against things like Bulmers, Magners and other mass produced cider.

  • "you need to be careful of dry ciders - they will need extra sweetening" -- only if you're a wuss ;)
    – slim
    Dec 14, 2011 at 16:40

Apple Cider, particularly for the purposes of heating and mulling, should be unfiltered, but more importantly unpasteurized. This is a primary difference you will taste. Also, don't rely on powdered mixes; if you are in Italy, look up a mix (i.e. clove, vanilla, star anise, whatever) and get some actual whole spices (I assume mulling spices are not uncommon) and prepare it like a tea.

  • 2
    I grew up with an apple orchard and moved away in late childhood, and am picky about my cider. I have had excellent pasteurized cider and terrible unpasteurized cider, although I suspect that the excellent pasteurized cider would have been even better unpasteurized. Dec 14, 2011 at 22:59
  • 1
    @peter I would agree, I just mean as a rule of thumb, similar to buy fresh typically entailing better results.
    – mfg
    Dec 15, 2011 at 0:28

In Europe we would use either.

Cider almost always refers to the alcoholic beverage (except in the US) and what I bought as cider in the US would be apple juice or apple squash maybe.

I think either spiced apple juice of spiced alcoholic cider are awesome. French cider can be very dry though so you would very likely need to add sugar (brown is nice but anything works, honey is very strong tasting with the spices)

  • Spiced alcoholic cider is quite good, although usually simpler in flavor than that made with raw cider. Dec 14, 2011 at 23:02

The powdered mixes are mostly sugar, apple flavoring, and other spices, such as cinnamon. They are non-alcoholic. Therefore, to duplicate that, use apple juice (fresh, unfiltered, filtered, whatever you can get, but the closer to the apple the better), and heat it with a cinnamom stick and perhaps some other whole spices, such as cloves or ginger.

If you only want a single serving, then take the juice and store it in the fridge, with the spices still in it. Only heat what you want at a time.


You might consider ordering a few bottles of boiled cider, such as that sold by King Arthur. I can't say that I've tried to reconstitute it, but the catalog copy claims that it works.

Another option, if you're really determined (sounds like you might be) and can get apples in large quantity, is to build or buy a cider press and make your own cider. You could be responsible for introducing a new food to your region! Major down side: powdered mixes will never again be acceptable to you.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.