First, get a really big pan and clean and rinse it thoroughly – this will be utterly ruined if there’s even a hint of curry or casserole or whatever was there before it was last cleaned.
Pour the cider into the pan and put it on a medium heat (uncovered). Chop your orange in two and squeeze most of the juice out into your pan of juice. Make slits down the skin of both halves of the orange to release some zesty flavour, then pierce what’s left of the flesh with the cloves. Place both halves into your pan.
Add all the rest of the spices – ground works well but will make it just a bit cloudier. Add the mixed peel and the vanilla.
Peel the apple and place the peel into your pan. Chop and core the rest of the flesh and place these in two – this is just something nice to give texture to your warm drink.
Add the liquor. You don’t need to do this, but I think it really helps round off the dish. Finally, add the first 75g of the sugar and taste your cider. If you find it not sweet enough, add some more sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches your taste.
Simmer for at least 5 minutes, then just keep warm on the lowest heat as your friends and family help themselves, ladelling it into heatproof mugs. This is my favourite Christmas drink and I truly hope you try and enjoy it.
When making this, you’ve got to use decent cider. You won’t get anything like the same result with cider from plastic bottles or cans, as a rule. Go for the posh stuff and if in doubt, ask your local off-licence for recommendations.