Why It Works
- This festive drink gets a double dose of apple thanks to fresh cider and fizzy sparkling cider.
- You can choose rum for a warm tasting note, Scotch for maltiness and smokiness, and rye for a peppery take.
This cocktail is a delightfully simple thing: apple cider, lemon, spirit, and fizz. The apple-y core comes from the kind of cider you find at the orchard when you're picking (or the refrigerator aisle of the grocery store when you're not). The fizz isn't pricey sparkling wine: Instead, you'll use standard sparkling cider, like Martinelli's, to lighten the drink and give it an extra apple dimension. With a bright splash of lemon, the combination is as crisp as an Empire or Jonathan, balanced with a rich toffee undercurrent from aged rum, such as Appleton Estate Reserve from Jamaica. This cocktail, which was created by A. Minetta Gould of Saint Ellie in Denver, doesn't need nutmeg or other baking spices in the mix; the rum adds all those flavors on its own. If you generally don't think of rum as the perfect fall or winter spirit, this concoction will change your mind.
But you don't need to stop there. This drink offers a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure. You can sub out the rum for Scotch to give it a whisper of malt and smoke, or go with rye for a peppery take on the combination. Some people might want a touch of simple syrup or honey syrup in the whiskey versions; if you like your drinks on the dry side, don't add any, but if you find the basic formula a little too austere, try adding a quarter ounce of 1:1 simple or honey syrup per serving. (The rum version won't need it.)
If you have time to play bartender, set up all three bottles and invite your guests to try whichever version strikes their fancy. Making this drink one at a time is about as straightforward as it gets, but when you're hosting more than a few people, you may prefer to have the options prepped in advance. You can combine the rum (or Scotch or rye), fresh cider, and lemon up to two hours ahead of time, then stash the mix in your fridge. Quantity-wise, you'll just multiply each ingredient by the number of drinks you want to make. So, if you want 10 servings, you'll need 15 ounces of rum (or whiskey), seven and a half ounces of fresh apple cider, and five ounces of lemon. Then make sure you have an ounce per serving of sparkling cider chilled and ready.
I like to use a resealable swing-top bottle for easy pouring. You may want to have a funnel on hand to get it in there. To make sure the mix stays cold and the lemon juice tastes good as long as possible, I keep the bottle in an ice-filled bucket while I'm serving. (Though if it's not going to be out all afternoon or evening, I wouldn't worry too much about this.) The lemon is the limiting factor in your batching-ahead time, too; I don't love the flavor once it's been much more than four or five hours since squeezing. So making the batch two hours in advance of your guests' arrival and keeping it chilled will give you a nice serving window.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice (not just a few cubes!), and shake two drinks at a time—that's five and a half ounces of the mix. Then divide the mix between two Champagne flutes, using a cocktail strainer (plus a fine-mesh strainer if you want to be sure to catch every last little ice chip). Top each drink with fizzy cider and a star anise garnish, or balance an apple chip on each glass if you want to really bring your A (is for apple) game.
Reprinted from The One-Bottle Cocktail: More Than 80 Recipes With Fresh Ingredients and a Single Spirit with permission from Maggie Hoffman.
1 1/2 ounces (45ml) aged rum (see notes)
3/4 ounce (20ml) fresh apple cider
1/2 ounce (15ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon
1 ounce (30ml) chilled sparkling apple cider (such as Martinelli's)
Star anise pod and/or an apple chip, for garnish (optional)
Combine rum, apple cider, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker.
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 12 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled Champagne flute. Top off with sparkling cider and garnish with star anise and apple chip, if desired.
To batch the cocktail, multiply the quantities of rum, fresh cider, and lemon by the number of servings you'd like. Combine in a resealable bottle or container up to two hours before serving, seal well, and refrigerate. Stir the mixture well, and keep the container cold by standing it up in a bucket of ice. When ready to serve, pour five and a half ounces of the mix into a cocktail shaker. Proceed with step 2, dividing shaken mix between two flutes and topping each flute with an ounce of sparkling cider.
Aged rum contributes a toasty caramel note that's lifted with lemon, but if you're a hardcore whiskey fan, I recommend also trying this one with Scotch or peppery rye. (Some may prefer to add a drop—or a quarter ounce—of 1:1 simple or honey syrup to the whiskey version.)
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 7g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 27mg||134%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|