Let’s give thanks for Johnny Appleseed’s gift to mixology: the apple cider craft cocktail. For, what other crisp, clean flavor more completely captures the essence of autumn and our tradition of Thanksgiving? The recent resurgence of cider, moving its enjoyment from bucolic cider mills, where fresh-pressed apples are quickly converted into mostly sweetish ciders best paired with warm doughnuts, to some of the most imaginative bar menus in the land, has been a delicious thing to behold—and savor. Here’s a toast to a cidery sampling.
Pumpkin Patch, it’s called at Juniper, in this contemporary homage to the Green Mountain State near the shores of Lake Champlain. You could also call it New England in a cocktail. Vermont’s own Smugglers Notch bourbon is infused with grilled pumpkin, then combined with maple bitters, a splash of lemon and tangy, local apple cider.
As one of the top three apple-growing states in the U.S., Michigan loves its cider. At Detroit’s RenCen, which is also headquarters to General Motors, Joe Muer Seafood offers riverfront views paired with The Big Apple, a cocktail built with calvados apple brandy, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram from Jamaica, cherry heering, sweet vermouth and apple cider bitters.
Spiced Cider at Brabo Brasserie in this recently renovated Kimpton at the edge of Old Town infuses Red Jacket apple cider from the apple-growing paradise of the Finger Lakes Region of New York state with long pepper, star anise, cinnamon, clove and allspice. It is spiked with brandy, served hot and garnished with a whole cinnamon stick.
Seattle Cider Co. blends Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Gala apples with honey from the rooftop, 10-hive apiary of this hotel to produce semisweet, full-bodied Olympic Honey Cider. This summer, the hotel launched Olympic Honey vodka and its restaurant, Shuckers, showcases the cider and vodka in a craft cocktail, Nectar on the Roof.