Fall in the Garden State brings with it crisp weather, brilliant foliage — and everyone’s favorite weekend pastime, apple picking. There are brisk winds and beautiful colors in the orchards — gold, greens, reds, and pinks — as kids of all ages bound through the leaves in cozy sweaters. And nothing closes out a day at the orchard or even the farmer’s market like a crisp and fruity cocktail that highlights the flavors of the season!
Here are a few ideas to whet your appetite for the season’s most famous fruit. And, as always, please drink responsibly.
Mulled Apple Mocktail
1 L fresh pressed apple juice or apple cider
Thinly sliced orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
Freshly grated ginger, to taste
1/2 tsp honey, or more to taste
Additional cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)
Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)
1. Combine the apple juice with the orange peel, cinnamon stick, cloves, and ginger in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture to a simmer and let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
2. Sweeten the mixture to taste with the honey, then let cool slightly.
3. Serve in a mug garnished with a cinnamon stick, slice of orange peel, or whipped cream.
This refreshingly tart cocktail, courtesy of Laird & Company, uses applejack, one of America’s oldest distilled spirits (born in Jersey, natch!).
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 oz Laird’s AppleJack
Brandied cherry, for garnish
Orange slice, for garnish
1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice.
2. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry and/or orange slice.
2 oz Apple Pie Moonshine from Great Notch Distillery
3 oz ginger beer
2 dashes The Bitter Truth aromatic bitters
½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Add all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
2. Stir to combine, and serve in a chilled cocktail glass or classic mule cup over ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime, if desired.
This cocktail infuses the classic sidecar – typically made with cognac – with rich apple flavor. You can make this Old World style, with Calvados (a French apple brandy), or New World style with Jersey distilled apple brandy. Both are delicious!
3 oz Jersey Lightning Apple Brandy or Rare 12-yr apple brandy from Laird and Company (if using Calvados, try Christian Drouin Seléction Calvados)
1½ oz Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 oz fresh lemon juice
Honey simple syrup, to taste (optional)
Orange peel, for garnish
1. If desired, make the honey simple syrup using equal parts honey and water.
2. Combine the brandy, Grand Marnier, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker.
3. Sweeten to taste with the honey simple syrup, then shake the mixture briefly and serve in a martini glass, garnished with a thin slice of orange peel.
Rum and Apple Sipper
This combination of slightly spiced rum and fresh apple butter make this a smooth, full-bodied way to end a day at the orchard. If you want to take it easy on the spice, substitute Angostura bitters for the Creole bitters. Cheers!
2 oz Petty’s Island Driftwood Dream Rum from Cooper River Distillers
2 oz apple butter
3 dashes The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
¾ oz lemon juice
1. Mix the rum, apple butter, bitters, and lemon juice together in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice.
2. Shake vigorously, and strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass straight or over ice. If desired, garnish with a thin slice of lime or apple.
Looking to step up your kitchen game? Click Here to see Best of NJ’s Top Recipes & Kitchen Tips!
About the author: Michele Thomas is professionally curious; she likes to learn stuff. A certified sommelier with 15 years of experience writing about food, wine, education and the arts, she chronicles her wine escapades as the Bed–Stuy Sommelier (@BedStuySomm) on Instagram and Twitter.