Something to mull


Photograph: Joakim Blockstrom

Photograph: Joakim Blockstrom

In search of something to warm against winter winds, our Creative Director Geordie Willis provides a fool-proof recipe for mulled cider, including a touch of our fiery King’s Ginger liqueur.

While the weather is perhaps a little mild to mull, a warming cupful of something spice-scented and spiked with citrus will doubtless transport you to a cooler mind set and offer relief from festive panic.

The tradition of serving mulled wine goes back to medieval times. Originally mulled liquids (‘mulled’ meaning simply to heat and spice) were created as medicinal tonics. Called Ypocras or Hipocris after the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, these potions were probably far more sanitary than water and would have kept many a Greek warm through the colder months. In the 16th century cook books reference Bordeaux being mulled with honey, cinnamon, cardamom and galingale.

Unfortunately many modern interpretations are over-spiced and bitter, made from cheap plonk and pre-prepared sachets. While I find many of these blasphemous – sickly-sweet incarnations that are a far cry from the balance and complexity to be found in the right bottles – I’m hoping to experiment this year with a higher-quality base infused with some carefully selected herbs and spices.

While I’m working on my recipe, a safer bet is mulled cider. In my experience the flavours work better and the all-important scent is more enticing. We make ours with King’s Ginger, a liqueur that we invented in 1903 on the request of Edward VII’s physician. I find it is best enjoyed by a roaring fire or when chasing off whatever the collective noun is for carol singers.


Warm the ingredients in an appropriate receptacle and serve hot. Garnish with slices of lemon and a cinnamon stick. Double, triple or quadruple the quantities as required.