Every year at around this time, Jennifer Knott gets the urge to use apples. “I love how versatile they are and the many ways they can be used,” she says. “All of my cocktails have apple cider paired with a different spirit.”
Knott is the head bartender at 312 Chicago, in Chicago of course, where she brings out a new cocktail menu 4 times a year. This fall she’s created an additional, special 5-cocktail menu that only features cocktails made with apple-infused ingredients. Knott buys apple cider from her local Chicago farmers market and plays around with it. It pairs well with just about anything, she says — vodka, rum, whisky, calvados — though she can’t imagine using it with gin.
This year on the menu there’s a calvados cocktail; an apple brandy cocktail; and an apple pie cocktail that’s infused rum with apples, cinnamon, vanilla and cloves. For all of them she uses an apple cider made with blended apples. “But I have used different kinds of ciders made from different kinds of apples,” she says, “and there is a large variation in taste.”
Two of Knott’s apple drinks — Mamma I’m Coming Home and Mele Caldo — are served hot, and most are at least somewhat familiar. “I take things people know and make variations on them,” she says. “And I like to make comforting drinks at this time of year.”
Knott’s not the only one. Here we take a look at the apple drinks being served up around the country:
Mamma I’m Coming Home
From head bartender Jennifer Knott at 312 Chicago, Chicago
- 2 cups Apple cider
- 1.5 cups Pecan-infused Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whiskey (or regular whiskey)
- 0.75 cup Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port
- 0.75 cup Honey syrup
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 7 Cloves
Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let mull for an hour. Double strain the cinnamon sticks and cloves from the hot cider. Pour into an Irish coffee mug and garnish with a soft caramel candy. Serving size: 10 people batched/4 oz. per drink or single serving.
Can You Feel The Buzz Tonight
From head bartender Benjamin Harris, Pennyroyal, Seattle
- 2.0 oz St. George Pear Brandy
- 0.75 oz. Lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. Honey bee pollen syrup
- 0.25 oz. Amaro Montenegro
- 0.5 oz. Apple cider
- 1 Egg white
Add all ingredients into shaker, dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Fine strain into cocktail glass, and garnish with a fan of thin apple slices and a sprinkle of bee pollen.
From bartender Bryan Galligos, Bacchus Bar, Portland, Ore.
- 1.5 oz. Calvados apple brandy
- 1.0 oz. Apple cider
- 0.5 oz. Rosemary simple syrup
- 0.5 oz. Lemon juice
- 5-7 Basil leaves
Combine first 5 ingredients, shake, and strain into martini glass.
From Mcson Salicetti, Crimson & Rye, New York City
- 1.5 oz. Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend
- 0.75 oz. Lemon juice
- 0.5 oz. Black peppercorn-honey syrup
- 0.25 oz. Fresh apple juice
- 0.25 oz. Sherry
- 2-4 oz. Apple cider
- 2 Dashes of whiskey barrel-aged bitters
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 3 Black peppercorns
Add all the ingredients into the shaker except the apple cider and bitters. Fill the shaker with as much ice as you can and shake vigorously. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice (leave enough room for cider), top with apple cider and the 2 dashes of whiskey barrel-aged bitters. Finally, top with a cinnamon stick and 3 black peppercorns.
Stateside Apple Bottoms Up
From beverage manager Kyle DiRaddo, Federal Distilling Room, Philadelphia, Pa.
- 2.0 oz. Stateside Urbancraft Vodka
- 1.0 oz. House-made apple harvest syrup
- 0.5 oz. Triple sec
Per every apple (green or red), add 1 Dash vanilla extract, 1 Cinnamon stick, 0.5 cups sugar, and 1.5 cups water. Bring water to boil and add all ingredients except for vanilla extract. Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add vanilla, then let cool.
Shake syrup with vodka and triple sec, and serve up.
Spiced Apple Margarita
From bar lead Zak Klapperich, Embers Ski Lodge, Nashville, Tenn.
- 1.5 oz. Altos Blanco Tequila
- 0.75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
- 0.25 oz. St. Elizabeth’s All-Spice Dram
- 0.5 oz. Apple cider syrup
Shake and serve up or on rocks with dehydrated apple slice. Garnish with cinnamon/salt/sugar.
From mixologist Ted Kilgore at Planter’s House, St. Louis
- 1.5 oz. Fall Flavors Infusion
- Club soda (enough to fill glass)
- Slice of Red Delicious apple
- Slice of Granny Smith apple
Combine Fall Flavors Infusion and club soda in a highball glass full of ice and stir briefly. Garnish with both apple slices.
For Fall Flavors Infusion:
- 0.75 cup Chopped Granny Smith apples
- 0.75 cup Chopped Red Delicious apples
- 0.75 cup Chopped cranberries
- 2 Allspice berriesa