Favorite Winter Warmer of 2020: Hot Chaga Mulled Cider!

Hot Chaga Cider photo by Angel Tucker.
Mug by Adrian King for Little Bitte.

Greetings from the warm cocoon that is our lovely cocktail studio on the westside of Providence! We’ve gotten an number of requests to share our favorite hot drink of 2020 (so far) and we’ve settled on one. Introducing: The Hot Chaga Mulled Cider, an elevated hot cider toddy fortified with a nourishing chaga infusion, a hint of birch syrup and a healthy glug of rum. Dress your mulled cider with any warming spices you have on hand! We love whole clove, allspice and cinnamon to draw in the heat. If you can’t find Birch syrup, a hint of maple will do just the trick. Apple cider sweet enough for you? You can skip the birch syrup and maple entirely!

What’s Chaga?

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), “the king of medicinal mushrooms,” is a parasitic fungus that grows on white and yellow birch trees in the Northern Hemisphere. The sterile conk forms on the bark and has the appearance of a torched marshmallow or burnt charcoal. The irregularly formed conk is harvested, dried and grated in order to be steeped in hot water to make a medicinal tea that’s good for the immune system because of its anti-viral, anti-microbial and (wildly enough) anti-fungal properties. Note: do not boil the chaga, this could compromise the stregnth your infusion*

Are there other benefits of Chaga?

Yes! The mushroom is said to fight inflammation, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and generally slow the aging process. Chaga is a wonderful ingredient to have in your winter cocktail arsenal because it keeps well in the pantry and it’s easy to brew. The grounds can be re-steeped 2-3 times, making it a very efficient ingredient in the kitchen!

Hot Chaga Cider

2 ounces Anejo Rum

(We love Diplomático Rum Reserva Exclusiva)

6 ounces apple cider

2 ounces chaga infusion*

1 teaspoon whole mulling spices such as cloves, allspice, star of anise

cinnamon stick for garnish

1/4 ounce of birch syrup or maple syrup (optional)

brandied cherry for garish (it’s so festive!)

Chaga Infusion* Simmer 2 teaspoons of chaga powder in 1 cup of water for a minimum of 15 minutes, fine strain the liquid through a strainer or coffee filter and refrigerate the mushroom solids for your next batch. For a more potent large format elixir, simmer 4-5 chunks of chaga in 1 liter of water on the stove for up to 5 hours, cool to room temp, strain tea into a clean jar and refrigerate up to 2 weeks for future use. Reheat the tea as you need it.

Preparation: Add cider and spices into a medium pot on the stove and simmer for 15 minutes. In a smaller separate pan, boil chaga and strain into your hot cider batch, retaining the solids for future use. Once your spices have infused for at least 20 minutes, pour spirit, syrup and chaga infusion into a large mug and top without cider. Garnish with additional whole spices and a cocktail pick with a Luxardo cherry that has been rolled in brown sugar (for fun).

Brew up a cup for yourself and serve to friends and family in the spirit of good health and wellness.

Cheers! ❤ Willa + Little Bitte