10 Minute Hard Cider Recipe

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10 Minute Hard Cider

What’s so cool about this hard cider recipe?

I have made this hard cider recipe a couple of times with great results. Every other Saturday night it is a bit of a tradition in our house to have some friends around for drinks or maybe dinner. These evenings have tended to vary in style from a formal dinner party to a BBQ to a somewhat inebriated evening where we will play silly games. The type of evening depending to a large extent upon the type of people we have invited and what we think they will enjoy. One particular Saturday I found myself responsible for organizing the drinks for the evening’s entertainment. This particular evening was to be a ‘come around for chat, drinks and snacks’ evening. We call this ‘the quiet Sunday after evening’, I’m sure you get the idea. Now I had a selection of beer and wine, the usual staples, but wanted to do something to make the evening different. I had some hard cider bubbling, brewing away nicely but it was at least a month away from being ready to drink. What to do?

It is not unheard of for us to play tricks on our guests and with that in mind I formed a plan.

A quick trip to the store and a raid of our cold room produced the ingredients I needed. I put a few cartons of apple juice into a large mixing container, added an assortment of spirits including Vodka and Rum, Cinnamon sticks, Honey and fruit and adjusted for taste. I then poured the concoction into a keg style barrel so that I would be able to serve the result as a draft beverage without anyone being able to see the mix before it hit their glass.

As our guests arrived I offered them a drink asking if they would like to try my latest brew. The typical response, especially from the guys was, “err, got a regular beer?” “Sure” I would say, “would you mind just trying a small sample of this hard cider and tell me what you think?” I then proceeded to pour a small, very small, tumbler of the mix. The one consistent reaction to the sample was a kind of eye rolling accompanied with an intake of breath. “More?” I would ask innocently reaching for a larger glass.

I feel no guilt whatsoever, probably because I have never admitted the true nature of this concoction before. Maybe I am simply an immoral person but I have created a whole mystic around my cider making abilities, embroidering the nature of this particular brew with comments such as “yep, that brew took me eleven months to ferment. It’s a secret recipe handed down through my family for at least three generations, I’m glad you liked it.”

This really is a 10 minute process from start to finish. Essentially it is actually a kind of fruit punch though it still has all the apparent attributes of a home brewed hard cider. I’m sure lot of hard cider enthusiast (read snobs), are rolling their eyes in dismay upon reading this far.

There was a scientific experiment conducted upon wine connoisseurs, where, with the usual double blind process, these experts were consistently fooled by white which was wine colored red. The experiment demonstrated that our vision will overpower other senses in deciding what is real. I think one of the keys to making this drink work so successfully was dispensing the liquid from a barrel as one would a draft beer.

Here is the specific recipe I used on that first evening, though I have to say the fun in this particular recipe is experimenting and making your own mix, adjusting to individual taste as you go. Also I would never suggest that anyone mislead others as I have unless you all share a good and strong sense of humor!

What is the essence of the recipe?

Yep, this really is a 10 minute, start to finish job. Normally apples are fermented to produce the alcohol however it this case the alcohol is added separately short circuiting the process. It is really better described as a fruit punch, however as it is made of apple juice and has alcohol in it can be referred to as hard cider. Take apple juice, add a spirit or two, maybe fruit and cinnamon and away you go. Great recipe for parties!


1 gallon apple juice

1 bottle of Vodka (750ml)

4 – 8 tbsps clear honey (according to taste)

Directions Nothing too strenuous here

Mix it up and chill


Considerations and variations

Real brewed hard cider is usually cloudy so using apple juice with pulp will add an air of authenticity. Any spirits will work, Port, Rum, Spiced Rum, Schnapps and Goldschläger can be particularly good. Avoid Gin as its distinctive aroma is a bit of a giveaway. Use the alternatives or additions to honey below to obscure the taste of stronger flavored spirits.

Try alternatives to honey to create your own unique result. Add cinnamon, cloves and or ginger. Add real fruit, liquidized fruit and or small proportions of other fruit juices. Use pear juice as an alternative to apple juice.

Keep quantities proportional, 10% – 20% spirit to apple juice works best. Typically one bottle of spirit per gallon of juice is about right. Add other ingredients to taste.

Use a brewing keg available for just $10-$15 to dispense. Appearance is everything, if you dispense from one of these your guests will not question your brews pedigree.

Lastly drop a few cubes of previously frozen apple juice into mix to keep the brew chilled all evening.

Gluten Free?

Hard Cider is a great long drink for Celiacs because it is made from apples which contain no gluten. This recipe can be made gluten free simply by being careful regarding which spirits are added. Here are some suggestions. It should be noted that because manufacturers can change their ingredients without notice care should be taken to check individually before use. As a guideline the following spirits are usually gluten free.

Potato Vodka, Rum, Sake, Ouzo, Grappa, Cognac, Brandy, Tequila

Vodka is usually made with grain but there are quite a few brands that make the potato version. Potato Vodka usually has a smoother taste, try it!

Rum is usually made with Sugar Cane

Sake is made from rice, though barley can sometimes be added to aid the fermentation process usually in the cheaper brands. Always check with the manufacturer.

Ouzo is made with Aniseed and often Fennel seed and other similar aromatic plants.

Cognac and Grappa are usually made from grapes.

Brandy is usually made from pears, raspberries, cherries, and other fruits.

Tequila usually made from the blue agave plant but again there are some cheaper brands where other products are used.


Some good links for more information regarding Gluten free spirits

The Gluten free Kitchen






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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 2:09 pm and is filed under Cider Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

13 comments so far


I find it interesting that you have no problems lieing to the guests in your house. That is NOT a hard cider. I treat the guests in my house better than that.

November 4th, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Hey Michael, thanks for visiting this site and taking the time to comment. We appreciate your observation regarding this recipe and the story behind it. We would like to point out that we make the nature of the recipe very clear in two prominent places on the web page “it is actually a kind of fruit punch though it still has all the apparent attributes of a home brewed hard cider.” We do this as it is not our intention to mislead any visitors to the site.

With regard to the anecdotal tale associated with our house guests, this is meant to be a funny story and not be taken too seriously. It is a regular occurrence that we have played practical jokes on our guests as they have on us.

We are in the process of compiling recipes and experiences for true ‘fermented’ hard cider. If you have any you would like to share please feel free to post them here. If accepted we would be happy to post the recipe on its own page with links and acknowledgments of the original authorship.

November 5th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Sound delicious, but you should refrain from calling it “cider”. I suggest you remove your recipe or change the title of your blog. The word “cider” refers to fermented apple juice, and your blog seems to suggest it can be something else altogether. Just because it tastes like apples and contains alcohol does not mean it’s a cider. A lot of great cider makers are working really hard to educate consumers and realize the market for true cider in the usa, and your little blog will do much to set back their efforts. Do everyone a favor and do some research before propagating misinformation and reconsider how you represent “hard cider”. Ben Watson’s book “Cider, Hard and Sweet” would be a good place to start.
PS. There is no point EVER in the process of cider making that can be referred to as “brewing”; that’s a beer thing.

November 9th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

This recipe sounds like it would produce something real close to the URINIE tainted beverage called Fox barrel cider.

November 10th, 2008 at 11:14 am

Wow. Lame. Not real Cider? What a bummer.

January 23rd, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I really enjoyed this posting. After reading a couple of your responses I understand the “snob” comments. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be in that category if I continued to read your post. I have been brewing beer for 8 months now and I love the hobby so much! As I was making a batch I remembered making hard cider in college by adding brewer’s yeast to a jug and letting it sit. The quality was meh, but the alcohol did the trick. I have started cider making experiments now with champagne yeast and using a fermentation lock. After original fermentation I bottle with priming sugar to make it carbonated. My first batch came out drinkable. My second batch is pretty tasty.

I got a good laugh from your method and the joke you played on your guests. It makes for a great story down the line.

April 11th, 2009 at 7:48 am

Hmmm. A few pinky-lifting hard cider drinkers, eh? “Ahhh, Jeeves! Fetch me a bottle of the 1974 Chateau de Pomme, will you old boy?”
My son (15) is getting into making his own soda pop – our first batch of ginger beer was a disaster – we ended up with no soda pop in the bottle, and the bottle cap 100 feet into the woods – fortunately no limbs lost. We’re trying again with glass, and less warmth and time.
I’d like to try some hard cider for myself, as I have the above-mentioned CD, and can’t have beer, plus hard cider is just better.
Vinegar worms? blech.

June 29th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

oh, so tricking people is the idea?

October 22nd, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Amusing story, found it doing some research on cider brewing myself. Only done a few batches, but can’t say that I’d find your recipe distasteful. I just wanted to point out that newer research has shown that the distillation process of hard liquors destroys the gluten enzyme, thus making it palatable for gluten insensitive individuals (of which I am one). As long as said liquor has not been colored with something artificial, it turns out we celiac sufferers can now partake in many of the libations we’ve been missing out on!

October 25th, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Hi JC, thanks for your comment regarding our story and especially regarding your comments about the gluten free nature of distilled liquors. This is indeed interesting; thus prompted we have attempted to research this further but so far have only found somewhat anecdotal “the distillation process is ‘believed’ to destroy the gluten enzyme” comments. This rather than anything clearly definitive from an authoritative site makes us treat this information with caution.

Clearly though this is potentially very good news. My wife is not so sensitive a celiac that she cannot try something (in moderation) and get more than an upset stomach and aches. So we will have to conduct our own highly unscientific trial 🙂

October 25th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

We too have friends that are game to try anything. This went over really well as I don’t have the gumption or time or supplies (etc) to make hard cider from scratch. We took it one step further and warmed it all up and served it with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. After a few hours of games and drinks, no one could care less if it were authentic or not. It is the friendship that counts and the fun that goes with it. Lighten up people. Life is TOO short to fuss over such things – Cheers!

November 7th, 2009 at 3:33 pm
John Hutton

Great recipe, just the ticket for our fried turkey sandwich fest at the farm. Thanks!

November 12th, 2009 at 8:35 am

I’m in college. it’s 4:35 P.M and we’re having a mixed-drink taste competition at our halloween costume party tonight. This sounds absolutely perfect for my price/time range to set something up on the fly. Thanks

October 29th, 2010 at 3:37 pm

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