Let’s MIX IT UP! When I’m ready for an autumn cocktail, I’m leaving pumpkin spice for lattes- and eyeing sweet, cozy, APPLE CIDER. And really, could there be a better match for bold, caramelly rum? Grab your punch bowl, because WE’RE DOING FALL, Y’ALL!!
25 or so years ago, I lived in the Northeast and each year come Fall, I’d seek out apple orchards and go picking with friends on the weekends. Chunky wool sweaters, crisp cool air, the sound of leaves swirling in the wind… a singular experience. ?
AND THEN you take a bite. There’s nothing quite like that unique snap of a farm FRESH apple against your teeth, sweet juice dripping down your chin.
Florida has SO many things going… but about the closest thing you’ll find to an actual orchard is scoring fresh pressed cider from the grocery. And it’s a treat you shouldn’t pass up!
As opposed to apple juice, CIDER is a deeply flavored, cloudy beverage thanks to a multi-step process that includes mashing the apple pulp with its juice before pressing. Luckily, stores regularly stock the GOOD STUFF this time of year.
There’s no denying it – we are now in full-on Holiday Season. What are your plans? Are you heading to a party? Hosting one yourself?
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fall harvest, a World Series Game 7 party… wherever you are, this drink covers the bases! ?
Serve up a pitcher of this liquid gold and you’ll be the most popular cat in the crowd.
My heady concoction of rum and apple cider gets its fresh tartness from the lemon juice- and the generous hit of sweet vermouth provides a welcome, subtle bitterness. The orange zest and apple slices ring in the autumn season and give it that extra zing!
Besides it’s good looks AND stunning flavor profile, this spiked apple cider has lots more going for it. It’s easy to put together, has no obscure craft cocktail ingredients (yet still manages to taste like it does!), and begs to be made ahead of time. No need to spend time mixing individual drinks at a party when the guests are arriving.
So you see, my make-ahead punch has you covered, from every angle!!
Are there Any Substitutions (or Additions)?
- You can use simple syrup instead of pure maple
- Lime juice will take it in a different direction, but if you love limes you could sub it’s juice for the lemon.
- Try rimming the glass with cinnamon sugar for a fancy serve. Just beware it could get overly sweet so you may want to dial down the maple syrup in the recipe.
Can I Make this Ahead?
Yes, and you should. I tasted the drink immediately after mixing, then put it in the fridge for a few hours and tested again. The flavors were much more balanced and surprisingly more vibrant after having a chance to chill with the apple slices and orange zest, and the acidity from the lemon mellowed out as well.
I recommend at least two hours of chilling, but it can be made as much as 36 hours ahead.
Any other Tips?
- Your cocktail is only as good as its ingredients. This is really important. Find a good quality apple cider- don’t use plain old apple juice.
- Make sure to use a sweet vermouth, not dry. Vermouth is an inexpensive liqueur which in addition to being widely used in mixed drinks, I frequently enjoy on the rocks with a squeeze of orange. You don’t need a craft vermouth for this cocktail, Dolin, Noilly Prat, or Martini are all good brands.
- I found this became sweeter the longer it chilled, most likely from the apples. You may want to start out on the lighter side with the maple syrup, and adjust the sweetness to your preferences at serving.
- Check out my chef tip about the benefit of make ahead cocktails when entertaining…
Watch me make this recipe
Spiked Apple Cider
- 1 cup gold or dark rum
- 1 cup sweet vermouth
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 small apple cored and sliced thinly
- 2 strips of orange zest
- 1 ½ cups apple cider
- In a pitcher or jar, combine all the ingredients and stir to make sure the maple syrup is dissolved. Start by adding two tablespoons of the syrup, and taste. Adjust the sweetness according to you preferences.
- Chill for two hour, or for a day or two. Serve straight up, or over ice as you like.