Chilled Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail is festive any time of year; but especially during the holidays and Kentucky Derby Party season. Crisp apple cider flavors combined with smooth bourbon, lime, apple butter, plus crunchy red and green apple cubes make this bourbon cocktail a Friends Drift Inn favorite.
I could look at this bourbon apple cider cocktail all day! It is gorgeous and tasty. An apple butter cocktail with bourbon is a good way to spend the afternoon! Joyce Pinson, Friends Drift Inn
Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail At-A-Glance
Ingredients Apple Cider – Bourbon – Lime Juice and Garnish – Friends Drift Inn Spiced Apple Butter – Ginger Ale- Fresh Apples for Garnish
Equipment Cocktail Shaker – Measuring Cup and Spoons – Knife and Cutting Board
Yield 2 Bourbon Cocktails
Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail – It Looks as Good As it Tastes!
With cubes of red and green apples on top, this apple cider cocktail looks like someone poured confetti in a glass. Boosted with a wedge of lime, this cocktail has “party” written all over it!
Light and tart, this bourbon cocktail has a clean finish on your palate. The warmth of bourbon and our spiced apple butter round up the experience.
This is a cocktail to share with friends at celebrations.
The red and green apples nod to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but I’m telling you when it comes to cocktails you could serve this at Valentines, Easter or a Kentucky Derby party and no one would complain.
Serve this bourbon cocktail at your next tailgating party – and all your guests will cheer!
At Friends Drift Inn we serve this festive cocktail in vintage rocks glasses. But it would be so pretty in a stemmed glass too!
Building Flavors – Apple Butter and Apple Cider
The best apple ciders are usually found at apple orchards which offer apple cider made on-site. The local orchards here offer a fresh squeezed apple cider that must be refrigerated and has a limited shelf-life.
An alternative is a pasteurized shelf-stable apple cider which will keep in the jug at room temperature until you pop the seal. (See label for specific shelf-life)
We opt for the pasteurized, because we keep lots of apple cider on hand for entertaining. It is also a key ingredient in our Friends Drift Inn Spiced Apple Butter.
Most apple ciders use several varieties of apples to balance flavors; sweet and tart. It is the same with small-batch apple butters. Friends Drift Inn Spiced Apple Butter uses several varieties of apples, coupled with ginger and cinnamon.
By combining sweet apple cider with apple butter in this bourbon cocktail, the flavors become so vibrant. Your guests will love these!
Apple Cider History
History suggests that apple trees were grown along the Nile in ancient times. However, most academics credit our European neighbors with developing apple cider.
In medieval times, growing apples and pressing cider for fermentation was something most farmers did. The process made a “hard cider” which had an alcoholic kick. It bears mentioning, we are using a “sweet” non-alcoholic cider for this recipe.
During medieval times, cider making was an important industry. Monasteries sold vast quantities of their strong, spiced cider to the public. Farm laborers received a cider allowance as part of their wages, and the quantity increased during haymaking. English cider making probably peaked around the mid seventeenth century, when almost every farm had its own cider orchard and press.
As a kid, I can remember Grandpa using the old apple cider press. It stood near the honey house. The taste of apple cider, unfiltered and cloudy, was magical. Maybe it was because we grew the apple or maybe there really was some apple magic going on. Our family history is so entwined in apples it is hard to tell.
Choosing a Kentucky Bourbon
National Bourbon Heritage Month is celebrated in September, but we love a bourbon cocktail for any page of the calendar!
Bourbon and moonshine are two Kentucky spirits we never get tired of!
Bourbon is made by recipes called “mash bills.” A mash bill tells the distiller what ratio to mix the grains together. Bourbon mash bills feature corn first. After that comes barley, wheat, and rye.
How the grains are combined makes a huge difference in flavor. Barley gives a richness. Wheat rounds out the flavors. Rye will give you a spicy kick.
The colors of bourbon come from the charred oak barrels. By law, bourbon barrels can only be used once to make bourbon in. Over the aging process, bourbon seeps in and out of the barrel developing its characteristic brown color.
As the bourbon ages, some product is lost to the barrel and to evaporation. This loss is affectionately referred to as “The Angels’ Share.”
For this holiday cocktail recipe, Charlie chose a bourbon that has a heavy oak char, coupled with a vanilla and spice finish. It compliments our spiced apple butter and adds character to the apple cider and ginger ale.
Crisp Apple Cocktail Garnishes
I am a big fan of cubed apples! They add an extra crunch to sandwiches, and a fun textural component to apple cider cocktails.
Two of my favorite fresh-eating apples are Granny Smith’s and Galas.
While not an heirloom apple, Granny Smith’s are one of the most popular varieties in the American market. And with good reason; the flavor and texture.
Mike Telkamp of HGTV writes about Granny Smith apples:
With its sublimely tart flavor and unmistakable green hue, the Granny Smith apple (Malus domestica) is one of the most recognizable and beloved apples in the orchard. Its acidity and strong taste make it a frequent choice for both baking and for eating as a hand fruit.
Granny Smith apples have an acidic zing. When paired with lime juice in this cocktail – well the apple flavor sings on your palate.
By comparison, Gala apples smells heavenly and are very juicy. Gala’s are known for their crispness, making them a favorite for salads, cheese boards and charcuterie plates.
They are a natural as a cocktail garnish, playing off the color and flavor of the other apple components.
Getting Fresh and Pairing Up – Foods That Is!
Some bourbon cocktails just seem heavy; heavy like the steel toed boots I wear when working on the farm.
Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail is not like that. With a fizz of ginger ale, a bit of acid in the apples and lime juice, and the warmth of apple butter and bourbon this cocktail is more like a romp around the playground – light and carefree.
At the big red barn, we will be serving this at family game nights. Some food items to pair with apple cider bourbon includes:
- Baked Brie Berries
- Fresh Apple Slices with Cheddar Cheese
- Apple Bread
- Country Ham Biscuits
- Turkey Wraps
We hope you try this bourbon apple cider cocktail. It has become a classic here at Friends Drift Inn. If you are looking for a warm apple cider recipe try our Friends Drift Inn Wassail recipe.
Maybe it will become a favorite at your nest too! Cheers!
Choose Your Assortment
A light and refreshing holiday cocktail, Bourbon and apple cider with a splash of lime and ginger ale will brighten your day. Make batches for tailgating parties, family game night, the holiday cookie exchange, and your Kentucky Derby Party. A crowd-pleasing favorite!
- 1/2 cup of Apple Cider (we used sweet cider – not hard)
- 4 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon – choose one with an oak and vanilla finish
- 3 tablespoons Friends Drift Inn Apple Butter
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Lime Juice
- 12 ounces of chilled Ginger Ale
- Red and Green Apple Cubes for garnish
- Lime Wedges for Garnish
- For Kentucky Derby add a sprig of Mint
1. Prep apple cubes and lime wedges. Squeeze lime juice.
2. Fill two rocks glasses with ice.
3. Place apple cider, bourbon, lime juice, and Friends Drift Inn Spiced Apple Butter in a large cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
4. Divide the apple cider cocktail between the two glasses. Top with cold ginger ale.
5. Add apple garnishes and lime wedges. (Add a mint sprig for Kentucky Derby)
For tailgating parties or holiday entertaining, we make big batches of this bourbon cocktail. Mix everything but the ginger ale and garnishes and keep chilled until ready to party!
This is much lighter than most bourbon cocktails. It pairs easily with charcuterie and cheese plates, and is especially good with turkey or ham.
Like all our recipes, Bourbon and Apple Cider Cocktail is formulated with Friends Drift Inn Spiced Apple Butter in mind. We cannot predict how other products will perform.
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