There are certain fruits that are just evocative when it comes to drinking, and when we think of apples it’s hard not to get lost in the tastes and smells of a crisp autumn evening.
Whether it’s mulled cider or apple brandy, apples form the backbone of some classic alcohol-based drinks. But, in the world of cocktails, apple juice often gets left behind in favor of more traditional or on-trend mixers.
Certainly, apple juice isn’t a mixer we’d readily associate with whiskey, but the flavor combinations certainly stand up to closer inspection, even if it does require a little more care than the neutral mixers associated with classics like the old-fashioned.
When mixing whiskeys, it’s important to lean into the natural flavors of the whisky itself, it’s why jack and coke is such a potent combination, providing a double kick of sweetness.
Likewise, many scotch whiskeys have a profile that leans towards vanilla and orchard fruits and are perfect for pairing with apple juice, and the same goes for the sweet and spicy profiles of many classic Kentucky bourbons.
The Classic: Apple Sour
This is a refreshing twist on the classic whiskey sour, one that will be a surefire crowd-pleaser at any party. Evoking the crisp flavors of an apple martini, this apple whiskey sour will provide something for aficionados and less experienced drinkers alike.
Where most sour cocktails fail, is in providing something that is either artificially sweet or overtaken sourness, both of which can be avoided by the inclusion of a high-quality apple juice.
Try to avoid overly sweet or processed options, and get an organic brand that retains the subtle tartness and crisp flavors of apple. In terms of whiskey, a classic Speyside malt such as a Glenlivet or a Macallan will provide a perfect backdrop for the apple flavors.
1 1/2 ounces Macallan Double Oak or Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1 1/4 ounces high-quality apple juice
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 slice of apple (To garnish)
Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
Strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice, before garnishing with the apple slice over the rim.
If you want to really get in touch with those autumnal vibes, and win over the Instagram crowd, substitute the whiskey for a high-rye content bourbon such as Woodford’s or Basil Hayden’s and add a dusting of pumpkin spice mix to garnish.
Not Quite Like Grandma Makes It: Apple Pie Cocktail
Nothing evokes that feeling of home quite like the smell of a freshly baked apple pie, and it’s that familiarity that we’re trying to tap into with this cocktail that shows off all of the flavors of that all-American classic dessert.
It helps that the spicy and sweet flavors of any good bourbon, especially those vanillas and oak spice, are a natural fit into the apple pie profile.
For the bourbon component, there’s no need to overthink it, just go with your stock choice, although we’re partial to Buffalo Trace for this particular creation.
Likewise, any good-quality apple juice will suffice. If you can’t source any vanilla vodka, then simply opt for an unflavoured vodka and add a dash of vanilla extract to it before mixing;
1 ounce (30 ml) Vanilla Vodka
1 ounce Bourbon such as Buffalo Trace or Maker’s Mark
4 oz Organic Apple Juice
Pinch of ground Cinnamon
Brown Sugar (To coat the rim)
Candied ginger (To garnish)
Dampen the rim of your glass slightly, before carefully sugaring the rim with the brown sugar.
Pour the bourbon, vodka, apple juice, and ground cinnamon into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
Pour over the glass with ice, and garnish with the candied ginger on the rim.
Tastes Of Fall: The Apple Sidecar
Cocktails can be classic, timeless, and also, seasonal! Just as we all like something tropical and refreshing on a summer day when fall comes around we are all looking for something that can warm our hearts, and that will also taste delicious.
This is exactly where this classy autumnal take on the sidecar comes in, making the most of some high-quality bar staples such as Cointreau and cognac to create an autumnal delight. Feel free to substitute these out for any orange liqueur and brandy of your preference.
2 ounces organic apple cider
1 ounce cognac or your brandy of choice
2 ounces of any high-quality bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
A dash of fresh lemon juice
One apple, sliced for a garnish
Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously
Strain into a glass of your choosing
Garnish with an apple that has been cored and sliced into either a wheel or a wedge shape
An Elegant Dinner Party Option: The Apple Chai Whiskey Sour
No good dinner party, or any kind of party really, would be complete without cocktails. And this recipe is a great way to wow your guests with a distinctive take on the classic whisky sour flavors without straying too far into experimental territory!
Chai tea is one of those ubiquitous beloved flavors, popping up everywhere from deserts to hot chocolates, and it also lends itself perfectly to this cocktail.
Providing sweet and spiced aromatic notes that work perfectly with the tartness of the apple and whiskey.
2 oz bourbon
1 oz apple cider
1 oz strong chai tea
1 oz simple syrup, either storebought or homemade (See tips below if you’re unsure how to make your own simple syrup)
1 orange to zest
Brew a cup of strong chai tea and set it aside to cool
Reduce the apple cider in a small pot over a medium-low heat until it has been reduced by half. Set aside to cool
If making your own, make your simple syrup and set it aside to cool.
Once cooled, put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well
Pour into a glass using a strainer, and garnish with fresh orange zest to serve
Make your own simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water over medium-low heat for approximately 5-10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickened slightly.