Apples and warm spice have pretty much cornered the market as far as mulled ciders go, but swapping in pear is a pleasant change. Warm the hard cider in a big pot and steep it with ginger chunks, orange peel, and vanilla. Before serving, stir in some honey and a hefty dose of brandy.
Game plan: You can make the cider ahead of time through step 1, cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 days. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the cider and proceed with step 2.