Loaded with fall flavors, this riff on the classic is as warming as your favorite cozy sweater.
What can be more evoking of fall than the flavors of apple cider spiked with cinnamon? This cocktail, a version of the beloved Old Fashioned, delivers this warming combination with a good dose of boozy goodness.
According to lore, the cocktail was created by a Green Bay Packers fan after drinking Brandy Old Fashioneds at a New York City Packers bar. A traditional Wisconsin Old-Fashioned typically includes an orange slice, cherries or cherry juice, a sugar cube, and bitters, muddled together and then topped with ice, brandy, and lemon-lime soda. Homesick as he was, he thought adding apple cider to the drink instead of cherry juice would be the next best thing. Obviously, he was right.
The cocktail has been described as “fall in a glass,” with flavor profiles reminiscent of the season. It would be the perfect after dinner cocktail for Thanksgiving, for instance – think liquid apple pie with the added warmth of Bourbon. Of course, your choice of spirit will change the flavor, so when you pick your Bourbon or Whiskey think what sort of profile you’d like in your drink. Are you going for a woodsy slant, or more toward butterscotch, vanilla, or baking spice? More on that later.
Combining apple with Bourbon is not a rare thing. Their flavor profiles marry perfectly, in fact, many Bourbons have notes of baked apples in the nose or palate, making the combo a no brainer. Similar cocktails that combine apple cider and Bourbon include the Bushels and Barrels and the apple cider hot toddy. But the simplicity of the Apple Cider Old fashioned and its relationship to the classic Old Fashioned make it an easy to craft and delicious choice for a chilly fall evening.
While the recipe can be simplified to only three ingredients – Whiskey or Bourbon, apple cider, and bitters – you can add flourish with a few extra ingredients. Some like to make apple cider syrup with brown sugar or maple syrup, for instance. Make sure you use a fresh, cloudy apple cider for the best result. Avoid spiced options as they may not have the apple-forward flavor profile we’re going for. Angostura bitters are traditional but feel free to play with your ingredients. For example, orange or spiced bitters will enhance the flavors you prefer in the cocktail.
Apple Cider Old Fashioned cocktails can be served either cold or hot for a different twist. If serving cold, use the traditional Old Fashioned glass with one single large ice cube or sphere. If serving hot, use a mug or even an Irish Coffee glass.
For garnish, use a cinnamon stick and slices of fresh or dehydrated apple. If you like the classic garnishes of orange peel and Luxardo cherries, go for it. Why not add all for extra eye appeal and texture? Some bartenders like to light the cinnamon stick to release its oils and create a pleasant smoke. Go ahead, get fancy.
What is the Best Alcohol to Use to Make a Apple Cider Old Fashioned?
As mentioned before, your choice of spirit will change the taste of the finished product. A typical Old Fashioned uses Bourbon or Whiskey. If you are a fan of Rye Whiskey, why not! Your favorite Bourbon or Whiskey will make a drink you enjoy either way, but try not to use that special $200 bottle. Here are a few suggestions to consider:
For caramel and vanilla flavors, choose Maker’s Mark or Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey.For woodsy flavors, go for Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Barrel Finish Bourbon or Knob Creek 12 Year Straight Bourbon.
For fruity flavors, Four Roses Bourbon Single Barrel or Bulleit Bourbon Whiskey work great.
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz apple cider
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 1 sugar cube
- Ice cubes
- An apple slice and a cinnamon stick for garnish
- In a mixing glass, muddle together the sugar cube and the Angostura bitters.
- Add bourbon, apple cider, and some ice cubes to the glass. Stir all ingredients together until well combined and chilled.
- Strain the drink into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. If you like, add an apple slice and a cinnamon stick as a garnish.