Hosting a fall get-together? What’s better than a treat bar? I personally don’t know. I favor ice cream bars in the summer and for fall and winter, I’d go for hot cocoa or apple cider. I’m here to help you execute a treat bar with ease for a family or friend gathering (and we know there are plenty of those during the holidays).
This time, I’ve created an apple cider bar for those who have a sweet tooth. My favorite thing about drink bars is how much fun you can have with decorating them and making the food look so good! Presentation is everything! Just look at how cute this fall bar is?! I can’t get over the copper cups and how classy they look for fall. So, start inviting people over, as you’ll have a gorgeous presentation of treats for them to devour.
Tip #1: Add in's
This is a M-U-S-T! The fun part about drink bars is that everyone gets to personalize their drink for what they like and they get to have fun while doing it. Make sure you get a variety of add in's so your guests can get creative and make a drink they will truly enjoy.
Add in's to try:
-Caramel (syrup or candy)
-Caramel apple suckers (a.k.a. the best sucker in the world)
-Torani syrups: pumpkin spice, vanilla, almond, brown sugar cinnamon, and so many more!
Get creative with your add in's!
Tip #2: Presentation
This part is my favorite because it makes such a big difference to your guests. You've heard it before... we eat with our eyes. Or in this case we drink with our eyes. But it is SO true! When something looks pretty the experience is elevated.
-Add a cute fall sign or a chalkboard with the add in's listed.
-Serve your apple cider in something other than a crock pot or bowl; glass bottles, a pretty pitcher, or a spouted drink dispenser are both great options.
-Decorate your display table! Add in a few pumpkins, greenery or fall leaves, candles, lights, festive plates/napkins. The possibilities are endless!
Tip #3: Ditch the red plastic cups
Similar to presentation, the cup your guests drink out of can make or break your drink bar. Skip the red plastic cups and do something a little more sophisticated. Copper mugs are my all time favorite although they can be a little bit spendy. To keep it simple and cheap, consider serving your cider in glass cups you may already own, cozy fall mugs, or clear hard plastic cups.
Below I have attached my go to apple cider recipe. It is simple and making it homemade really is the cherry on top of a successful apple cider bar!
Homemade Apple Cider
9 medium apples, assorted types (I used a mixture of red, yellow and green apples)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice (optional)
12-16 cups water
1/3 – 2/3 cup brown sugar (or your desired sweetener*)
*I like to use half brown sugar and half maple syrup for my sweetener. But you can use any combination of brown sugar, white sugar, maple syrup, cane sugar, coconut sugar, or whichever other sweetener you might like. Just add to taste.
Wash apples and the orange, and then roughly cut into quarters (Don’t worry about removing peels, seeds, or stems). Place in the bowl of your large cooker. Add cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Cover with water, filling the slow cooker until it is nearly full (I left about 1/2 inch of space at the top of my pot). Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours, or on low heat for 6-8 hours.
About an hour before the cider is done cooking, use a potato masher (or tongs or the side of a spoon) to mash the apple and orange slices until they are soft. Finish cooking for one more hour.
Strain out the apple cider juice into a clean pitcher or pot. To get the maximum juice out of the apples, you can press them through a fine-mesh strainer or strain through a cheese cloth. Stir in your desired amount of sweetener until it is dissolved.
Serve hot (You can also transfer the cider to a heat-safe sealed container and refrigerate for up to 5 days, just rewarm the cider to serve).