Still trying to make sense of chilly temperatures, eating pumpkin with everything, and nighttime arriving before 5 p.m.? Chill out with a cocktail.
The summer-to-fall period is a painfully difficult one, especially for those still reminiscing of sun soaked afternoons. But that transition can go down a lot smoother with a luscious libation featuring the most sought-after ingredient among mixologists (sorry, pumpkin).
VIDEO: What Makes a Great Seasonal Hard Cider?
Apples are crisp, lip-smackingly sweet, and downright delicious — and with so many varieties in season, it makes perfect sense to dunk them in our drinks, too. But while sipping on cider to welcome autumn is a prerequisite, bartenders are shaking things up by developing thirst-quenching concoctions featuring this seasonal favorite.
“Cider is remarkably versatile in mixing fall and winter drinks,” explains Kara Newman, spirits editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine. “It’s sweet, but not too much so. It also plays well with spices and other flavors. In particular, it works well with vanilla and caramel, two dominant flavors found in all manner of aged spirits, such as whiskey and aged rum, which develop those similar notes from the barrels in which they are aged,” she says.
READ: 10 Apple Desserts (That Aren't Pie)
“The food-friendliness of cider makes it attractive to bars and restaurants, many of which are adding cider to drink menu offerings and creating fresh cider cocktails,” adds Newman. “There are even some quirky hybrids, such as hops-laced ciders and bourbon barrel-aged ciders, for example.”
Whether you prefer your cider piping hot or nearly sub zero, we found 10 tasty cocktails to make your happy hour extra festive.
(Dream Downtown in New York City)
- 1 ½ oz. Jameson (or any other Irish whiskey)
- ¾ oz. Blackwell’s Rum (or any other dark rum of choice)
- 1 ½ oz. apple cider
- 1 ½ oz. lemon juice
- 1 ½ agave nectar
- Ground cinnamon
Add all ingredients in a rocks glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with ground cinnamon.
(The Chester in New York City)
The Chester Cider
- 2 oz. Fireball Whiskey
- 4 oz. hard apple cider
- 1 apple slice
- Cinnamon sticks
- Ground cinnamon
Add whiskey, cinnamon sticks and cider in glass with ice and stir gently. Top with apple slice and then sprinkle ground cinnamon atop.
(Recipe adapted from “Spice & Ice: 60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails” by Kara Newman, courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine)
- 1 sliced habanero pepper
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 oz. The Balvenie Scotch Whisky
- ½ oz. Amaretto
- ¾ oz. lemon juice
First, make habanero-infused apple cider by steeping the habanero in the apple cider for about 2 hours. Remove the pepper afterwards. Combine remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled sour glass.
(Todd Richman, corporate mixologist for Sidney Frank Importing Company)
Lower Saxony Fireplace
- 2 parts hot apple cider
- 1 part Jagermeister
- ¼ part Grand Marnier
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 apple slice
Heat a heavy mug with hot water. Discard the water. Add Jagermeister, Grand Marnier, and the sugar cube. Pour boiling hot apple cider into the mug and stir. Garnish with an apple slice.
(National Honey Board)
Honey Pot Cider
- 1 ¼ cup apple cider
- 1 Tbsp. orange blossom honey
- 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1 ¾ oz. Apple Jack Brandy
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 apple slices
Combine the apple cider, honey and cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Stir in the brandy and pour the cider into a mug.
Hot Apple Cider Toddy
- 2 oz. hot apple cider
- 1.5 oz. Dewar's Highlander Honey
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stuck
- 1 lemon slice
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pour honey, boiling water and whiskey into a mug. Spice it with cloves and cinnamon. Add a slice of lemon. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.
(Pavan Liqueur de France)
- ½ bottle Pavan Liqueur de France
- 1 bottle hard apple cider
- ½ cup apple juice
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 red apple, cubed
- 1 green apple, cubed
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
Pour liqueur in a pitcher with fruits, apple juice and lemon juice. Just before serving, add the hard cider. Serve over ice.
(Mandy Kellogg Rye, founder and curator of Waiting on Martha)
Warm Bourbon Apple Cider Punch
- 1 gallon (16 cups) apple cider
- Mulling spices
- 3 cups bourbon
- Apple slices
In a stockpot, combine and heat apple cider and mulling spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Add bourbon and garnish with thick-cut apple slices.
(Robby Younes, wine director at Crystal Springs Resort in New Jersey)
Some Like it Bubbly
- 1 oz. Eau de Vie du Pomme (or any other apple brandy of choice)
- ¼ oz. Bourbon Barrel Aged Apple Liqueur (or any other similar sweet hard cider of choice)
- ½ oz. pomegranate syrup
- 3 oz. Champagne
- Apple chips
Shake the first three ingredients with a large ice cube to avoid diluting the spirits. Pour into a coupe glass with apple chips already stacked inside. Top with champagne.
- 2 medium strawberries, quartered
- 2 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- 2 lime slices
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- 1 oz. vanilla-infused vodka
- 4 oz. Angry Orchard Crisp Apple Cider
Muddle strawberries and basil in simple syrup. Squeeze, then add 2 lime slices. Fill glass with ice. Add cider and stir. Garnish with strawberry and lime slice.