We know apple cider as a warm and comforting drink. It is cinnamon and spice-infused goodness, kind of like a hug in a mug! But did you know that apple cider is also an excellent ingredient for making tasty cocktails?
The apple cider cocktail connection
Apple cider cooking on a stove fills your home with the sweet and spicy aroma of all the goodness apples and spice have to give. This wholesome, hearty drink is excellent on its own but also perfect with alcohol.
A spiked apple cider cocktail is a great drink for holiday parties or outdoor gatherings in the fall. Apple cider is a versatile ingredient that acts like juice but offers so much more depth to a cocktail recipe.
What alcohol goes with apple cider?
It almost seems like the darker spirits were designed to go with apple cider cocktails, and bourbon is the granddaddy of them all! That being said, other alcohols like vodka also pair nicely with apple cider.
There's an apple cider cocktail for every taste, from spiked sparkling apple cider to apple cider sangria!
Deciding what alcohol to mix with apple cider can be tricky because there are so many options. So let's take a look at three primary alcohols used in making drinks with apple cider:
The bourbon apple cider cocktail combo is world-famous. You can make your apple cider cocktail spicy or keep it tame. The cider and bourbon flavors are easy to work with, and you don't need to add much to them.
#2. Dark rum
Dark rum makes a more decadent apple cider cocktail. Adding fragrant ingredients such as an orange peel, cloves, and allspice will create a rich and smooth drink. Angostura bitters also provide a nice touch to the mix of flavors that rum offers for these types of cider cocktails.
Although the traditional way to have an apple cider cocktail is to mix it with dark spirits, there is nothing wrong with apple cider and vodka. Vodka won't alter the flavor of the apple cider cocktail. However, you may need to add some spices to enhance the taste a bit.
Besides bourbon, rum, and vodka, apple cider can stand on its own as an alcoholic drink. Alcoholic apple cider isn't as hard to make as it sounds. It's as simple as taking apple juice, adding yeast, and then waiting a few weeks as the contents ferment.
How do you make alcoholic apple cider?
Here’s a recipe with all the step-by-step instructions you will need to make an apple cider alcohol drink:
To first get started on your apple cider journey, you will need to purchase the following items if you don't have them already:
- Two 1-gallon glass demijohns with lids
- An airlock
- A bung (stopper that has a hole in it. This item is typically included with the airlock)
- 1.5-pint glass jar with a lid
- Measuring glass
- Siphon (hose variety)
- Star San
- Mortar and pestle
You should find these products at your local homebrew supply shop or online. Wherever you purchase the equipment you need, you must make sure you thoroughly sanitize everything before you begin.
Homemade hard apple cider drink recipe
- 1 gallon of freshly pressed apple juice
- One package of Champagne yeast
- 1 Camden tablet
You can purchase the apple juice or make your own. If you buy a juice, make sure it is pure apple juice with no preservatives or additives to get the best boozy apple cider going!
Sanitize all of the equipment before you funnel the juice into the carboy, and crush the Camden tablet with the mortar and pestle. Add the crushed tablet with the juice. Place the cap on and shake gently. Set this aside for 48 hours.
After 48 hours, pour a cup of liquid from the carboy into the glass jar and freeze to use later. In the measuring glass, add water to the Champagne yeast (follow instructions on the yeast package). Add this to the carboy filled with juice, and fit the bung and airlock.
Open and carefully add some water to the airlock. Keep adding water until you get the contents to approximately mid-way. This procedure will allow some CO2 out without letting out any oxygen.
Check on this periodically to ensure that the water remains in the same spot during fermentation.
Place the carboy onto a surface that will catch any overflow during the first 24 to 48 hours of the fermentation process. Once this period is over, you can set the carboy in a cool and dark place to continue to ferment.
Check daily. After the third week, take the frozen juice you set aside, let it thaw, and then funnel it into the fermenting cider. The sugars present in this reserved juice will start the fermentation again, so make sure you recap with the airlock and bung.
The fermentation process will vary but allow anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks for this to happen. When you no longer see bubbles rising in your cider, the fermentation is complete. Siphon this cider into a fresh and clean new carboy.
Do not add any dregs left at the bottom of the fermented liquid. To prevent this, keep the hose above the sediment. Funnel into smaller bottles (7 x 500 ml bottles should work - keep about an inch and a half of room from the top of each bottle).
- Refrigerate for up to a month. This will prevent any further fermentation and possibly shatter the bottles.
Here are some apple cider cocktails you can make now!
#1. Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail
This festive apple cider mixed drink is made with bourbon, some lemon, and refreshing ginger beer. The garnishes make this apple cider cocktail look as good as it tastes.
- Apple cider
- Ginger beer
- Lemon juice
- Orange liqueur (Optional - Grand Marnier or Cointreau are perfect to use)
- Garnish. A cinnamon stick, apple slice, and a sprig of thyme
Fill a rock glass with ice. You can make perfectly round, clear ice balls with an ice ball maker to make this drink fancier. Pour the bourbon in, followed by the cider, lemon juice, and orange liqueur (optional). Gently pour in the ginger beer to top it.
Carefully stir the drink to mix slightly. Garnish the glass with the apple slice, cinnamon, and thyme, serve and enjoy!
#2. Lavender Apple Cider Cocktail
This is a delicate apple cider cocktail infused with the botanical aroma of a sprig of lavender. The apple cider and whiskey stand out in the fresh flavor layers derived from a few simple ingredients, making this drink a firm favorite.
- 1/2 oz. of simple syrup
- 3/4 oz. of lemon juice (fresh if possible)
- 2 oz. of scotch
- 4 oz. of apple cider
- A fresh lavender sprig and a lemon wedge as garnish
In a cocktail shaker, add all of the main ingredients over ice and shake thoroughly. Pour the mixed contents into a collins glass, garnish with the lavender and lemon wedge, serve and enjoy!
#3. Cider Dark and Stormy
When it comes to cocktails with apple cider, the Cider Dark and Stormy is a classic! It is indeed perfect for warming you up on a dark and stormy night.
- 2 oz. of apple cider
- 2 oz. of dark rum
- 1/4 oz. of lime juice (fresh if possible)
- 4 oz. of ginger beer
- A lime wedge as garnish
Combine in a Collins glass with ice together the cider, rum, and lemon juice. Top off the glass with the ginger beer, garnish with the lime wedge, serve and enjoy!
#4. Fall Cider Sangria
Although sangria is synonymous with summer, you can enjoy this fall cider sangria at any time. It takes the best of the classic sangria and spices it up with an apple cider taste infusion.
- One apple (sliced)
- One pear (sliced)
- One orange (sliced)
- 8 oz. of apple brandy
- 1 (750mL) bottle of white wine
- 32 oz. of apple cider
Use a large pitcher to combine all the ingredients. Mix thoroughly and chill for about 4 hours (overnight is best), serve in a wine glass, and enjoy!
#5. Apple Cinnamon-Spiced Vodka Cocktail
This is how a summer cocktail becomes one of the tastiest fall cider cocktails. It's an apple cider cocktail that takes the kick of vodka with the fresh flavor of apples.
- 1 1/2 oz. of vodka
- 1 1/2 oz. of apple cider
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice (fresh if possible)
- 1/2 oz. of Aperol
- Coat the glass's rim with turbinado sugar and garnish with cinnamon sticks, star anise, and some fresh apple slices
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the ingredients, and shake thoroughly until the contents are well mixed—strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with the star anise, cinnamon sticks, and apple slices, serve and enjoy!
It's all about apples!
These apple cider cocktail recipes are great for crisp fall days, but the fresh apple flavor never goes out of season, so go ahead and make them any time of the year!
Stick to a traditional apple cider mix with alcohol combinations like bourbon or dark rum, or be adventurous with other spirits. Have fun and enjoy your apple cider cocktails!