There's nothing like a cozy cocktail on a beautiful early fall evening with good company. In the season of changing surroundings, changing seasons, the smell of apple cider makes many of us swoon. Why not adult a little and savor the changing season with some fall cocktails after a long busy week? Grab some crisp apple cider you picked up for the kids and add a little adult beverage to your cocktail glass with a few other simple ingredients.
My Inspiration for this Fall Cocktail
I was inspired to make this fall cocktail after making some fresh apple cider with our own apples from our front yard not long ago. If you've never made apple cider from scratch before, it's absolutely worth the effort! I used this homemade apple cider recipe from Gimme Some Oven and it turned out spectacular. Our home grown apples from our apple tree were ugly, but they sure did make a mean apple cider! We sweetened it with 50/50 brown sugar and real maple syrup. Also, lots of warm spice; cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, whole cloves and fresh oranges. It was perfect; not too sweet and not too tart. Because it was an unfiltered cider, it had an especially interesting feel in your mouth when drinking it and was amazing for a cocktail, it's just superb!
The Golden Ratio
When I say "The Golden Ratio," I want to say it out loud with a British accent tapping my fingers together and then chuckle. But seriously, I was a struggling student in my 20's and did a little bartending on the side at a couple busy hotels. Before that, I went to bartending school in San Diego, CA to learn how to do that job. In my training, the golden ratio was instilled in us. The Golden Ratio for a perfect cocktail is 2 parts booze, 1 part sweet and 1 part sour. I'd say there's a little bit of wiggle room in this case since some of the mixers are both sweet and sour. Seltzer water isn't really either in this case, so that's where you have to break some rules to make a better cocktail using your designated ingredients.
How to Make a Orange Apple Cider Cocktail
Grab your glass(es) of choice; martini, coupe, or rocks glass(es). Decide if you want to add anything to the rim of the glass, like a sweet or salty course ground topping. Shake some onto a small plate, wet the rim with some citrus juice or maple syrup, whatever your preference is and then dip the rim into your salty/sweet rim garnish. Add your ice if you want your cocktail on the rocks. Then add your booze, apple cider, lemon juice, spices and orange bitters. Top your drink with your garnish of choice; apple or orange slice.
Bourbon or Vodka, That is the question.
If you're not a huge fan of whiskey, vodka is the way to go. I personally prefer the richness and caramel taste of bourbon now that I'm a Kentuckian. I like vodka as well though, so I can go either way on this.
On the Rocks or Up?
This is a personal preference. Do you want a really chill cocktail in a rocks glass over ice or are you looking for a bit of an elegant cocktail, shaken or stirred over ice in martini or coupe glasses? You can honestly go either way on this one. They're both just as delicious!
Before you add your tasty rim options
- Orange Sugar/Salt Rim- Orange sugar makes this cocktail elevated in looks and of course it tastes great. I like to add a touch of salt to the mix as well because salty and sweet is always extra nice.
- Cinnamon Sugar Rim- I like brown sugar with cinnamon in this case.
- Orange Peel Swirls/Twists- This takes a little more effort, but it's worth it if you're wanting to really show off and impress guests.
- Orange Slices- If you're not wanting to spend extra time or effort making orange twists, slices are great too. Just keep the slices thin.
- Apple Slices- I like to add 1 single thin apple slice, dipped in lemon juice to keep it from browning. You can also shake a little bit of cinnamon on the slice to flavor and looks. Cinnamon will also help keep the apple from browning too fast.
Orange Apple Cider Cocktail Ingredients
- Booze of Choice- I recommend bourbon or vodka for this drink. The flavor will be much richer with bourbon, but vodka is fine if you want to taste more apple.
- Apple Cider- The better the apple cider, the better the cocktail, so be sure to use good apple cider. I personally think unfiltered cider or homemade has a richer warmer taste, but you have to work with what you have available to you. So, grocery store-bought is fine.
- Orange Seltzer- I love sparkling water/seltzer for such cocktails because you're not adding more sweetness, just some bubbles with subtle essence. Orange seltzer here is just the right amount of subtle sweet and sour without adding MORE sugar. It ends up making this cocktail low carb too!
- Orange Bitters- I personally an not a big fan of angostura bitters as I believe it's changed over the years and no longer has "real aromatics" in it. For this recipe I prefer Regan's or Watkin's Orange Bitters.
- Real Maple Syrup- just a splash of rich maple syrup can warm up your fall cocktail. If you don't have any, it's fine without. It's like a little bonus ingredient in this case.
Optional Spice Add Ons:
- Allspice- I like to add a sprinkle of allspice to the shaker for added flavor since a lot of store-bought ciders don't have much added spice. A little added spice is nice. =)
- Cinnamon- a little sprinkle in the shaker or just on your apple garnish to keep it from browning is great.
Orange Apple Cider Cocktail (with Bourbon or Vodka)
- 2 oz Bourbon (or Vodka)
- 1.5 oz Apple Cider
- 2 oz Orange Seltzer Water
- drizzle Real Maple Syrup
- 3-4 dashes Orange Bitters
- If you would like to add a rim garnish to your glass do this first by using a lemon or orange wedge, run it around the rim to get the whole rim wet, then dip the rim into your rim sugar/salt of choice.
- If you're making this cocktail just over ice, fill your glass about ¾ full with ice.
- Add your alcohol straight to the glass over the ice. (Bourbon or Vodka) Then add the apple cider, drizzle of maple syrup and bitters. Top with your orange seltzer to the level of your liking.
Making a Shaken Drink
- Follow the rim garnish step above first.
- Add about ¾-1 cup of ice to your cocktail shaker
- Add the ingredients in pre-measured amounts to your shaker: alcohol, apple cider, bitters, maple syrup and a spice if you're adding it. You can add a pre-measured amount of the seltzer or add it to the glass itself after it's poured.
- Top the shaker with a pint glass or the shaker top. Give it a good shake. Watch out if your shaker is leaky.
- Then strain the drink into your martini or coupe glass.
- Add your garnish(es) of choice and enjoy!