Fall’s crisp air lends itself to many seasonal treats (including some previously-mentioned fall drinks), but no ingredient says “fall” as much as an apple.
Luckily, we don’t have to be like Herculus and travel to the Garden of the Hesperides to find fantastic apples, as they’re abundant at our local farmer’s markets.
And while eating an apple in fall is great, enjoying an apple- or apple-cider-based cocktail is even better. Try the following five apple cocktail recipes and see if you agree (Hint: when called for, always use apple cider, which is good and cloudy—not apple juice).
Steaming Spiked Cider
This is an old favorite that has been served at many fall wing-dings. Though I usually shy away from most schnapps, I can’t forget about tradition here. And besides, the end result is delicious. This recipe from Good Spirits serves around 10: Add 4 quarts apple cider to a large nonreactive saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Add 20 ounces Hot Damn cinnamon schnapps, 16 ounces white rum, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and 10 cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 15 minutes, but don’t let the mixture boil. Once thoroughly warm, ladle into heatproof mugs, making sure that each mug gets a cinnamon stick. Garnish each with an apple slice.
This comes from the mind of Seattle bon vivant Mark Butler (via Dark Spirits), who says, “No esoteric ingredients, no exotic undertones, but a tasty combination nonetheless. I picture it being like what might have been considered a tropical cocktail in 1965 Duluth or Eau Claire.” To make, fill an Old Fashioned glass halfway with crushed ice. Add 1-1/2 ounces dark rum, 2-1/2 ounces apple juice, 2-1/2 ounces chilled ginger ale, and a dash of cherry juice. Stir briefly. Garnish with 2 maraschino cherries.
This mix brings a trio of smoke and sweet and autumn into the glass via its intriguing apple-chipotle combo. It’s ideal both with dinner or after. The recipe comes from the well-seasoned and tasty book Spice & Ice by Kara Newman: Fill an Old Fashioned glass halfway with ice cubes. Add 1 ounce chipotle-infused vodka, 1-1/2 ounce vanilla vodka, and 2 ounces apple cider. Stir to combine. Garnish with an apple slice. A Note: To make the chipotle-infused vodka, add 2 or 3 chipotle peppers to a 750 milliliter bottle of vodka. Let sit for a few hours and then remove the peppers.
There is plenty of room for elegance during this rustic harvest season. This shimmery drink from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz adds a little bubbly splendor. Place 2 apple slices, 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice, and 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle well. Fill the cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add 1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur and, using a long spoon, stir well. Pour 4 ounces chilled brut Sekt or other sparkling wine into the cocktail shaker. Using that same reliable spoon, stir briefly, being sure to bring up the fruit on the bottom when stirring. Strain into a flute glass or cocktail glass. Garnish with an apple slice, adding a little notch, if needed, for rim balancing.
When the season turns colder, we're apt to want to stay home where it’s cozy. But when cabin fever inevitably sets in, head over to Capitol Hill's Knee High Stocking Company to order this warmer. Its marriage of Buffalo Trace bourbon, apple cider, and lemon, all served warm, is sure to take the chill off.
Photo from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, copyright 2012, Harvard Common Press and Jerry Errico.