When fall falls, it falls hard. It fills our eyes, our noses, and, if we're doing things right, our cocktail glasses.
Apple cider is a seasonal classic, and its can't-beat-it flavor is a perfect match for all sorts of spirits and simple cocktail ingredients. You can make these seven apple cider cocktails with things you probably already have, turning a simple jug of cider into something that will make the whole month of October much more festive.
1. The Tartan Crispy
A perfect apple has a balance of sweet and tart. This Scotch-based cocktail has both. Scotch. Tartan. Get it?
Place 4 ounces apple cider in a cocktail shaker. Add 2 ounces Scotch whisky, 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup, and shake hard over ice. Strain into an iced rocks glass.
2. The Stone Fence
You can use whatever spirit you have on hand – white rum, gin, even vodka. I like blanco tequila.
Build this drink in the glass. Pour 4 oz tart hard cider into a tall glass. Fill the glass with ice, and add 2 oz spirits. Add a glug of club soda, and top with 3-4 dashes bitters. (I used cranberry bitters in the photo at top. Try Peychaud's or whatever you have on hand.)
3. Crunchy Leaves
A simple combination of Kentucky Bourbon and pure ginger juice give apple cider a punch it can handle. Ginger juice can be found in high-end grocery stores, or on Amazon.
Pour 2 ounces Bourbon into a rocks glass filled with ice. Add one tablespoon of ginger juice, and fill the glass with apple cider. Add two dashes Angostura bitters and stir to combine. Garnish with a thyme sprig, cinnamon stick, or whatever you have on hand.
4. A Spiced and Spicy
Mezcal makes anything better. Here, its smokey flavor mingles with spiced cider to bring out those sipping around the campfire vibes.
Muddle two rings of green jalapeño with 3/4 ounces fresh lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add 3 ounces spiced apple cider and 2 ounces mezcal, plus 1/4-1/2 ounce simple syrup, depending on how sweet you like your cocktails. Shake hard over ice, and pour into an iced rocks glass with one side rimmed in coarse salt.
5. The Rhumb Line
Easy to make at home and served hot, this is the perfect sipper to hand to whomever you want to sit under a blanket with.
Recipe for two drinks:
Fill two mugs with hot water to warm through. Bring 1 cup of apple cider to a simmer in a sauce pan. Add one black tea bag, such as Earl Grey or English Breakfast. (Decaf is fine if you plan on sleeping soon.) Turn off the heat and let it steep for two minutes. Dump the water from the mugs, and pour 1 1/2 oz of aged rum into each mug. Add one whole clove to the rum, then split the apple cider/tea solution between them. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a bit of grated nutmeg for bonus points.
6. La Manzanita
Lemon and apple cider combine to make a tequila Collins that even the pickiest drinkers can enjoy.
Combine 1 1/2 ounce apple cider and 2 ounces blanco tequila in a cocktail shaker. Then, add 3/4 ounce each fresh lemon juice and simple syrup to the shaker and fill with ice. Shake hard, and pour into an iced Collins glass. Top with club soda, and sprinkle a pinch of ground cinnamon on top.
7. The Double Down
This recipe features both fresh cider and hard cider with the spicy flavors of rye whiskey for a seriously good autumal experience.
In a rocks glass, combine 1 1/2 ounces of rye whiskey with 2 ounces apple cider, a teaspoon of maple syrup, and 4 dashes of bitters. (Use whatever you have with a bold, spicy profile. Angostura is fine). Stir to combine. Top with a few ice cubes, then pour in 4 oz of semi-dry hard cider. Stir, and garnish with a thyme or rosemary sprig.
Happy fall, everyone.