Drinks for a Happy Apple Season
There is nothing better than the crisp crunch of a fresh apple, picked in the orchard. Just grab it, shine it up on your shirt and lift it to your waiting mouth. Awesomeness. In the spirit of that glorious taste, we at Swizl wanted to gather some great tastes for apple season.
Let’s start with the grade school story of “Johnny Appleseed.” According to the tale, he wandered the land, barefoot and bearded, seeding our great nation with apple trees. This is only partially true. The real story of John Chapman, the man behind the legend, gives us a heck of a lot more to be grateful for in our Swizl Nation.
He was bearded and often barefoot and did plant many orchards from his signature bag of seeds. In the words of the Human League hit from the 80s, “that much is true.” But those orchards weren’t planted to give us the shiny red apples that show up in school lunches today. They largely weren’t for eating. They were for drinking.
Small and bitter, called “spitters” those apples were valuable crops for ciders and applejack, two signature apple libations popular in his time (and regaining popularity now with the farm-to-table movement). At the time of his death, he owned over 1200 acres. That’s a big commitment to apples and the great drinks they give us.
In celebration of his work and this season, we’ve collected some exciting apple ciders and an Applejack cocktail to toast Mr. Chapman and his legacy.
We’ve picked some classics and some exciting new players to try.
SMITH & FORGE HARD CIDER – This pours beautifully. It starts with a tart apple flavor and finishes with sweet citrus twist. A very exciting new player from Wisconsin.
WOODCHUCK HARD CIDER AMBER – Big apple taste here that hearkens back to the days before Prohibition. Totally classic and refreshing.
ANGRY ORCHARD CRISP APPLE – A clean, crisp, fruity option with a great amber color from a relatively new player who really knows their cider. This is a crowd pleaser to be sure.
STRONGBOW GOLD APPLE CIDER – An extremely tasty dry classic from England with a beautiful golden color. One of the best known hard ciders out there with good reason.
Applejack, the other spirit Johnny Appleseed loved, is an apple-based brandy that’s a cousin to apple wine. At that time, it was America’s favorite type of spirit. It has a delicious apple-honey scent, whiskey-like texture and boozy, wooly finish. Perfect for sharing this time of year by a warm evening fire. Swizl’s applejack brand of choice is Laird’s. The 100 proof Bottled in Bond version is the one to use in our recipe.
1 1/2 Ounces of Applejack
1/2 Ounce of Lemon Juice
1/2 Ounce of Orange Juice
1 Teaspoon of Maple Syrup
Regular and Cracked Ice (Place a cube in your palm and use the back of a spoon to crack it)
Frost your glass ahead of time and coat the rim with sugar. Shake the contents of the recipe in your shaker well with regular ice. Strain over your cracked ice in a rocks glass. Serve with salted nuts and a cheese board.
Indie legends The White Stripes get the nod on this one. Their punchy love ballad “Apple Blossom” is a charming deep-ish cut that winds its way around your brain and stays there. Enjoy it with a great cider or the Applejack Rabbit above.