Orange Apple Cider Cocktail (with Bourbon or Vodka)

Up close shot of Orange Apple Cider Cocktail in coupe glass over red napkin with bourbon bottle, cider and orange seltzer in the background
Posted On: November 1, 2023
Last updated: November 14th, 2023

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.  

cocktail glass with apple cider cocktail on ice with an orange twist and thin apple slice with bourbon and orange salt in the background

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! 

2 coupe glasses with orange apple cider cocktail on red napkin with half an orange in front, cider to the right, orange bitters behind and bourbon bottle to the left

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.  

Steps Photo Collage of making orange apple cider cocktail in coupe glass and rocks glass

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.

view from top of coupe glass of orange apple cider cocktail with an orange twist

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.

Apple Cider Cocktail on Rocks and in Coupe glasses side by side

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!

Garnish options for orange apple cider cocktail shown on clear speckled cutting board with oranges, apples, knife  and shaker

Rim Options

Before you add your tasty rim options

  • Orange Sugar/Salt RimOrange 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.

Garnish Options

  • 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.
Ingredients shown on wooden counter for apple cider cocktail: 2 vodkas, bourbon, orange, shaker, apple cider, 2 bottles of bitters

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.
Over top view of apple cider cocktail on rocks with thin apple slice with cinnamon, orange peel twirl and some allspice in cocktail mixture with a half orange to the left
Orange Apple Cider Cocktail with an orange sugar rim and some allspice, on the rocks.

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.
Up close shot of Orange Apple Cider Cocktail in coupe glass over red napkin with bourbon bottle, cider and orange seltzer in the background

Orange Apple Cider Cocktail (with Bourbon or Vodka)

This apple cider cocktail has an added orange flavor which makes it stand out with a little orange seltzer and some orange bitters. Enjoy it with bourbon (my preferred choice here) or vodka if that's your preference. It's a great fall or holiday cocktail to enjoy through the fall with fresh apple cider available just about anywhere.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person
Calories 165 kcal


  • 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 3/4 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 3/4-1 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!


This recipe makes 1 cocktail, you can easily double or triple it.ย 
You can make this cocktail any way you normally make a cocktail or follow steps above for a shaken and poured cocktail.ย 

Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 165kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 0.04gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 14mgPotassium: 45mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 0.4IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 6mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword Adult Beverage, Apple cider, Apples, Bourbon, Cocktail, Fall, Thanksgiving, Vodka
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