So today marks the first day of Autumn (a.k.a. my favorite season and nominee for the most wonderful time of the year, weather-wise) and that means cooling temperatures and earlier sunsets are on the way. It also means this is the time of year when we tend to trade our berry- and melon-inspired cocktails for ones featuring fresh Fall apples. Fall 2015 has already yielded me an unexpected gift in the form of the following five cocktails that I recently mixed and tasted in the Flavorful World kitchen. Each entry takes inspiration from the apple, whether in chopped, cider, or brandy form. And each was an unforgettable experience that taught me something about how versatile the fruit could be with regards to drinks, and even schooled me some about what cocktail styles I most enjoy.
To aid me in my endeavor of re-creating these, I was provided at no cost with samples of Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Il Fresco, Gonzalez Byass Nectar Pedro Ximenez Dulce Sherry, Partida Añejo Tequila, and Amaro Lucano. I tasted the cocktails in the same order as they are presented below, and my impressions of each tasting experience follow the directions for each.
Apple Cider Bellini
- Bottle of Prosecco DOC
- ¼ oz Fig-infused vodka/liquor
- ¾ cup Apple cider
- Powdered cinnamon
- Granulated sugar
Pour a splash of the fig vodka into a shaker and add ¾ cup of cider to the mix. Shake to combine. Set out your champagne flutes, and pour the cider mixture about ¼ of the way into each glass. Top with Prosecco and serve. Really want to sweeten things up? Add a cinnamon-sugar rim for a festive touch.
My thoughts: A lively beverage with a celebratory seeming, its alcoholic elements blend well without bringing too much heat. I found it to be sweet enough without the cinnamon sugar rim, however rimming the glass as such does present a more impressive visual. This cocktail is fun to make and easy to drink, which I think are two things that every cocktail should bring to the table.
- 1/8 Granny Smith Green Apple (Chopped)
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz agave nectar
- 2 basil leaves
- 4 oz Prosecco DOC
Muddle all of the above ingredients and add 4 oz of Prosecco DOC. Shake and Serve in a highball. If using sparkling water, stir it don’t shake it.
My thoughts: This one ended up being my favorite of the five. I could drink more of these in one sitting than would be wise, and that is owed to the perfect balance of sweet and tart between the lemon juice, agave nectar, and Granny Smith apple. The addition of basil’s green herbal influence summons mental images of a mojito’s mint leaves, and transforms existing flavors into something that tastes truly exotic.
Green Apple Cup
- 1 ½ oz Amaro Lucano
- 1 ½ oz green apple juice
- 1 ½ oz ginger ale
Mix the drink directly in the glass and serve with a slice of cucumber, a slice of lemon and orange, a sprig of mint and ice.
My thoughts: Amaro Lucano as a cocktail ingredient is a notion toward which I’m still trying to figure out my feelings. Before tasting this, I have tended toward enjoying the drink best either on its own or splashed into cups of coffee. For the moment, that preference remains intact, however I’m convinced that a cocktail exists in which I would love it. I don’t know that I would prepare this one so often, as I felt the apple juice and ginger ale got lost a bit in the drink’s sole alcoholic ingredient. The product casts quite a long shadow, and the other ingredients never quite stepped out of it to introduce themselves.
- 2 oz Partida Anejo Tequila
- 6 oz Hot Spiced Apple Cider
- Heavy Cream
In a small warm wine glass add Tequila and hot apple cider. Float heavy cream.
Garnish: Grate fresh Nutmeg over cream.
Apple Cider Preparation: In a pot add Organic Apple Juice. Add winter spices like Cloves, Cinnamon Stick, All Spice, and Orange Peel. Start of by adding a few cloves one cinnamon stick etc so as to find the right-spiced apple cider flavor. You can always add more spice later. Bring everything to a low heat for about 15 mins. Taste for flavor. When the desired flavor is reached then take off stove. Strain out all the spices and orange peel. Serve warm and enjoy!
My thoughts: I could live a happy life if I had one of these tuck me into bed each night. Having never encountered a cup of hot spiced apple cider that I didn’t like, I would not have thought the concept could be improved upon. I’ve rarely been so happy to be wrong as I was in this instance. Two ounces of tequila to 6 ounces of cider might not sound like much, but this warm has a powerful kick that heavy cream softens without diminishing. This one tastes just like an Autumn evening.
The Maple Apple
- 1 ¼ oz Brandy
- ¼ oz Nectar P.X. Sherry Wine
- ½ oz Calvados Boulard (Apple Brandy)
- ¼ oz Maple Syrup
- ½ oz Lemon juice
Shake all ingredients together with ice, and strain into martini glass. Garnish with Lemon zest.
My thoughts: This cocktail had a lot going on in terms of flavors. At times, these elements—the tartness of lemon, the caramel raisin-inspired of 100% Pedro Ximenez sherry and candied maple sweetness—seemed to resist one another as they fought for dominance that none of them really achieved to a satisfying degree. Here is another that I am glad for having tasted, but would be less inclined to opt for, compared to other standout cocktails on this list. I was grateful here, though, for the opportunity to revisit Calvados, as my experiences with it up to this point had been quite limited.