By Florence Fabricant, The New York Times
Amber is the color of autumn in a glass, with the tender blush of a Bellini giving way to sturdier, warming whiskey-based drinks. But it’s also time for cider, now on the upswing. Cider is not only a sweetly refreshing family quaff; when fermented and alcoholic, it’s also a delicious alternative that competes with beer.
You could argue that locally made, fresh nonalcoholic cider is simply apple juice. It’s really more than that and better because these days most apple juice is made from imported concentrates, too sweet and with all the apple richness filtered out. Like wine grapes, cider apples are not meant for the fruit bowl. Instead they are varieties that deliver complexity and richness when pressed.
Hard cider is tart and refreshing, food-friendly and excellent to sip at dinner, as the English, French, Spanish and Canadians well know. Another apple drink to keep in the fridge is apple ice wine, as delectable a nectar with dessert as Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise. Made by pressing frozen apples that produce intensely concentrated juice, Neige from Quebec is one label to look for; Still River from Massachusetts is another.
With fresh or hard cider on hand, you have the makings of all sorts of drinks.
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail
- 2 ounces Kentucky bourbon
- 1 ounce fino sherry
- 1/2 ounce triple sec or Cointreau
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 4 ounces dry sparkling hard cider
1. Combine bourbon, sherry and triple sec or Cointreau in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a large wine glass half-filled with ice.
2. Top with bitters and pour in the sparkling cider, then serve.
Apples and Oranges, Mulled
Time: 15 minutes, plus 4 hours steeping
Yield: 1 quart
- 1 orange
- 1 quart fresh cider
- 12 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled or unpeeled
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
- 12 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- Whiskey, dark rum, reposado tequila, sherry brandy, ginger beer or white wine, for spiking (optional)
1. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to strip the zest off the orange. Juice the orange. Place the zest and juice in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the cider and all the remaining ingredients except the vinegar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in the vinegar. Steep for at least 4 hours.
3. Strain if desired, or serve with the spices and some or all the other ingredients. Reheat to serve warm, or chill and serve cold. Spike if desired.