No autumn celebration is complete without the sweet, rich scent of hot apple cider. More nutritious than hot chocolate, apple cider is the perfect complement to crisp fall weather, roaring bonfires and hayrides. It also comes in two versions: kid-friendly and adults-only. If you want to make sure not to mix these two up, you can always set up a small wet bar and let the grown-ups add their own flair. Setting out suggested recipes helps prevent faux pas and wasted cider.
Heating the Cider:
Unlike other traditional cocktails, cider cocktails are usually hot. Keep your cider at a steady temperature by pouring it into a crockpot. This way, you can enjoy your evening without worrying about the cider bubbling over, getting cold or boiling away.
Crockpot cider also allows for slow infusion of many kinds of flavors. Orange slices, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks are just a few of the flavors that go well with cider and several types of liquor.
Simple Cider and Whiskey:
Cider and whiskey is one of the easiest cider cocktails to put together. Smooth, good-quality whiskey tastes best because it doesn’t add any acidity or roughness to the flavor of the cider. Light-colored Irish whiskey is one of my personal favorites.
The process is simple. Just ladle some hot cider into a glass or ceramic mug and pour in about a shot of whiskey. If you’re really cold, you can add a second shot, but any more than that will overpower the flavor of the cider. If you want more whiskey than that, just drink it neat, sans cider.
Brandy comes in many fruit flavors, including apple and pear. Combining these two flavors with a little orange zest and some cloves makes for a bone-warming cocktail you won’t soon forget…or stop drinking. You may also just use either apple or pear brandy if you like simple flavors.
Stay away from summer-flavored brandies, like blackberry and cherry, for your apple cider. These brandies can be very sweet and can make for cloying cocktails.
Rum and Bourbon:
Dark rums and bourbons combine better with apple cider than do the lighter versions. The heavier, richer flavors of the dark liquors combine with the cider to create a taste that is unmistakably autumnal. Bourbon combines especially well with orange bitters, cloves and nutmeg.
You may add spices to a rum cocktail, as well, or simply use a spiced or flavored rum. Vanilla rum gives apple cider a special soft, sweet note that pleases the nose as well as the palate. If you must use light rum, try a smooth, unflavored variety that will combine with the cider without ruining the taste.
Even through the chill of autumn and winter, some still prefer their cocktails cold. You may use any of the above sections to create a cold cider cocktail or create something entirely new. An autumn mimosa could include cider in place of orange juice. Replacing half of the cranberry juice in a vodka cranberry with cider gives it a distinctly Thanksgiving flavor.
When experimenting with apple cider cocktails, it’s important to balance the sweetness of the cider against the burn and bitterness of your chosen alcohol. Start by adding the liquor to the cider, instead of the other way around, and you have a base for an endless variety of apple-flavored cocktails.