You might associate apples with autumn and harvest, but this summer, we think you should be drinking cider cocktails. These drinks are light, tart, and refreshing, slightly fizzy and not too alcoholic—just right for cooling off on a muggy day. Even better: they're super-simple to make, without too much fuss or too many ingredients. Because we're all kinda lazy in the summer, and drinking shouldn't be the thing that takes up all of our available effort.
These cocktails can incorporate any of your favorite local hard ciders; if you're looking for recommendations, check out our cider column from Chris Lehault.
A San Francisco startup recently released a bottled version of this cocktail (they call it T.W. Pitchers' Snake Bite), but we think you can handle making a homemade version, tailored to your personal preferences. Choose your favorite lager (or try other beer!) and your favorite cider, then mix them half-and-half in a pint glass (or by the pitcher.) The mix is refreshing and not too sweet.
If you can pour and you can stir, you are set to make this simple cocktail, which dates all the way back to the colonial era. The easiest version is just hard cider and good rum, though you can also get fancy, doctoring up the cider with a mix of rum, apple brandy, and applejack.
It's easy to get tired of the brunch classic, but that doesn't mean you should throw out the basic Mimosa formula. In this cider-based variation, fresh orange juice bolsters the fruity flavor of good cider, and a touch of ginger liqueur adds spice. Serve it with a cinnamon-spiced quick bread or an easy crumb cake.
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Take this recipe for a cider-based spin on white sangria as a basic template: it's based on semi-dry cider, sweetened with a little Grand Marnier and ice cider, which cider makers produce by slowly freezing out a portion of the water in fermented cider. (What remains is rich, sweet, and flavorful.) A little fresh ginger perks up the mixture, and you can add whatever fruit you find at the farmers' market (try apricots and peaches!)
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Once you've mastered the easy drinks above, it's time to get just a touch fancier. Making a flavored simple syrup is about as simple as making tea, and it's fine to whip up this hibiscus-flavored version in advance so you have it ready in your fridge. The cocktail gets a rosy color from the hibiscus and a little spice from ginger beer.