The right way to Make Cider Cocktails

Amber is the color of autumn in a glass, with the delicate blush of a Bellini giving way to more robust, warming whiskey-based beverages. But it’s time for cider too, now on the upswing. Apple cider is not just a sweet, refreshing family quaff; When fermented and alcoholic, it’s also a delicious alternative that competes with beer.

One could argue that locally made, fresh non-alcoholic cider is simply apple juice. It really is more than that and better because most of the apple juice these days is made from imported concentrates, too sweet and with all the apple richness filtered out. Cider apples, like grapes, are not intended for the fruit bowl, but varieties that provide complexity and richness when pressed.

Hard cider is spicy and refreshing, food-friendly, and great for dinner, as the English, French, Spanish, and Canadians know. Another apple drink to keep in the fridge is apple ice wine, which is just as delicious a nectar with dessert as Muscat de Baumes-de-Venise. Quebec Neige is made by pressing frozen apples, which produce an intensely concentrated juice. Still River from Massachusetts is another.

With fresh or hard cider you have what it takes to make all kinds of drinks. cups made from warm, flavored mulled wine are perfect for a cool afternoon, as are these three cider-based cocktails.

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cocktail

2 ounces Kentucky bourbon

1 ounce fino sherry

½ ounce of triple sec or Cointreau

3 strokes of Peychaud bitter

4 ounces of dry sparkling hard cider

1. Combine Bourbon, Sherry and Triple Sec or Cointreau in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a large wine glass half filled with ice.

2. Cover with bitters and pour in the sparkling apple cider, then serve.

Time: 15 minutes plus 4 hours of soaking

Yield: 1 liter

1 orange

1 liter of fresh apple cider

12 thin slices of fresh ginger, peeled or unpeeled

2 whole star anise

1 cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon of whole allspice

12 whole cloves

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Whiskey, dark rum, reposado tequila, sherry brandy, ginger beer or white wine for spiking (optional)

1. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the peel from the orange. Juice the orange. Put the zest and juice in a 3 liter saucepan. Add the apple cider and any remaining ingredients except the vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the stove.

2. Stir in vinegar. Let it steep for at least 4 hours.

3. Strain if desired or serve with the spices and some or all of the other ingredients. Reheat to serve warm or cold, and to serve cold. Spike if desired.

Adapted from the cookbook of the Ladies’ Village Improvement Society

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cocktails

4 ounces applejack or calvados

¼ cup apple syrup (instructions below)

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

4 strokes of Angostura bitter

2 thin slices of apple

2 cinnamon sticks

1. Combine the applejack or calvados, apple syrup, lemon juice and bitters with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until very cold.

2. Strain into 2 cocktail glasses and garnish each with an apple slice and a cinnamon stick.

Cider Syrup: You can buy it, but it’s easy to make at home. To make half a cup of apple syrup, simmer a quart of fresh apple cider in a small saucepan for about 30 minutes until the mixture turns dark and concentrated. Keep it in the refrigerator and use it to sweeten cocktails as you may be using simple syrup.

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