he irony of the apple, at once innocent , the symbol for all things good and wholesome, yet used through history as a tool for darker deeds, remember Snow White’s undoing, and Eve’s? Damn that serpent for sullying this innocent’s reputation!
As a child no doubt many of us had apple sauce as one of our first “moving into solids” meals, as an art student it was for me the first thing I was given to draw and replicate the contours of. There’s a lot of firsts for this baby, the apple gets everywhere, I mean its even on the back of my computer as I write this and yet I think the apple often gets taken for granted, its the rosy cheeked girl next door that gets overshadowed by the long legged brazilian supermodel miss passion fruit.
Since apple harvest is upon us, I think its time the apple got its due, or at least in my world it is. Remember the saying an apple a day, do you think the good doc would care how we consumed the apple? As long as we’re getting our daily quota of quercitine (medical snippet: enzyme in apples that helps build immunity especially from allergens) who cares how it goes in, right? For me the apple has always been a giver of life, wether its the apple I juice daily with my veggies or the apple pie my mum makes for Christmas, its satisfying sweet yet crisp tartness lends itself to many a reviving potion.
One of my favorite tipples is a wee dram of whiskey, I lean these days more to American rather than Scotch, a lovely vanilla imbued Bourbon or deep and spicy Rye, the apple is the perfect complement to their dulcet tones, so come Autumn I have for the past few years started making apple cinnamon bourbon. A simple process really, want me to show you how simple? Am not even sure the illustrations are necessary but since we’re a world fixated on visual stimuli, explicit especially, here’s some porn…
watch as this kentucky gentleman kisses the soft skin of the pink lady…..
I took four pink lady apples, quartered them and chucked them into a screw top jar with a 750ml bottle of bourbon and a couple of cinnamon sticks. Shook the crap out of it every so often for 5 days at the end of which the resulting nectar is at once fruity, woodsy with a hint of sweetness. Strain off the liquor and store in the fridge if you want to give it a longer life span, assuming of course it lasts long enough to have something that qualifies as a span. Can be drank alone or on the rocks, though am not a fan of adding water to my whiskey,works really well in a version of a manhattan, in a simple old fashioned or in something more playful like my Moscowitz grog.
My preference for an inexpensive yet tasty bourbon is Buffalo Trace, produced in Frankfort ,Kentucky they also have a fine line of antique collectables also released around apple harvest time , that are rare to find on shelves, but their basic bourbon whilst not as smooth and sweet as the antiques has way more levels and nuances than your average $20 bottle of bourbon. Four Roses also produces a fine inexpensive bourbon that makes for a great mixer as well as for drinking alone, more details below in bar basics.
My second apple based tonic would be an apple shrub, or fruit vinegar, the precursor to modern day soda invented in pre colonial times. Its a way of keeping seasonal fruits available all year round. The shrub is added to soda water, or for a grown up tipple can be added to sparkling wine and subbed for citrus in many a cocktail. I found this recipe on the fantastic Food52 site, here’s the abbreviated version, for the full article go to
For the shrub you will need:
3 medium apples such as Pink Lady or Honey Crisp
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup of cane sugar
Grate the apples on a box grater, add to a wide mouthed lidded jar, top with the sugar and vinegar, screw on lid and give a good shake. Store in the fridge for 5 days or so giving the jar a shake every so often. Once ready strain out the liquid pushing as much of the apple juice out of the shreds. Store in an airtight container back in the fridge, I use it below in my apple grog.
1 white sugar cube
3 dashes angostura bitters
2 oz apple bourbon
splash soda water
mist of absinthe (mini atomizers can be picked up at drug stores)
This is a bit of a cross between two classics, the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac
Take the sugar cube and place in an old fashioned or rocks glass, dash the bitters on the top, to help dissolve the sugar cube add splash of soda water, muddle to dissolve sugar and incorporate bitters. Add your ice, preferably one big cube since it melts slower and slows down the dilution of your drink. Add the apple bourbon and stir for about 25 seconds or so. Finish with a mist of Absinthe and garnish with a lemon twist ( traditionally the Old Fashioned gets an orange twist but lemon pairs better with the anise flavor of Absinthe.
2 oz apple bourbon
3/4 oz Kummel ( recipe below in bar basics)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash angostura bitters
lemon twist to garnish
Add all ingredients to your mixing glass, add your cracked ice and stir for about 30- 40 seconds until the drink is well blended and chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or martini glass and garnish with lemon twist
Inspired by Phil Moscowitz from the movie “Whats up TigerLilly”
1/2 oz apple shrub
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz five spice syrup (recipe below in bar basics)
2 drops Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
2 oz Belgian Lambic ale preferably apple
1 oz dark rum for floating on top
sliced apple for garnish
Throw first three ingredients into your boston shaker with ice and shake for about 40 seconds or until a nice frost forms on your shaker tin, strain into an ice filled highball glass and top with the Lambic ale, finish by floating the dark rum on top, add lime wheel as finishing touch.
Here’s a couple of apple based spirits you might like to include in your bar.
The first would be Applejack, this particular version is from Cornelius, the apples are harvested from Hudson County, the apples are pressed, fermented in bourbon barrels and carefully distilled in small batches which are numbered.
The resulting spirit displays subtle notes of apple and vanilla and has clean spiced finish. Can be drank alone on the rocks with a lemon twist or used for mixing. Try it in the classic Sidecar cocktail.
The second offering would be an hard apple cider, again this one comes from the east coast, Warwick Valley Winery is New York State’s first fruit distillery since prohibition. Located in the Hudson Valley area, they produce a wide range of all-natural quality products. Created from pressed New York state apples, this semi-dry hard cider is crisp and fruit-forward with a tangy, refreshing finish.
Try it to top off the Moscowitz grog above or mix half cider half pilsner lager for the UK summer favorite the Snakebite.
You will need:
3 cups of vodka, my go to would be Luksusowa or Uluvka
1 tablespoon crushed toasted fennel seeds
2 table spoons crushed toasted caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups sugar
1 cup hot water
Kummel is a popular liqueur in both Germany and Eastern Europe where it is drank as a digestif after meals, its an excellent companion to bourbon and whiskey in mixed drinks.
In a screw top jar add the vodka and spices, store in a cool dark place for 2 weeks shaking from time to time. When ready strain off the liquid through a coffee filter. Mix sugar and hot water together till sugar dissolves, once cooled add to the spiced vodka and shake till incorporated.
Five Spice Syrup
You will need:
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon chinese five spice powder
Add sugar to hot water and mix until dissolved, add the five spice powder and steep for 5 or six hours, when ready strain through a coffee filter to remove any residue, store in an air tight container.
A wee note on the extras
Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Deep amber color; elegant aromas of buttery caramel, toasted
nuts, and brown spices; honeyed toasted cornbread , intense brown spices. Great for mixing drinks or just for a wee nip after dinner. Priced at around $24 for a 750ml bottle.
Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambery and Cocchi Americano, Cocchi technically an aperifif wine rather than a vermouth wine but can be substituted out where recipes call for dry vermouth but will add more sweetness to your cocktails.
Dolin Vermouth de Chambery is made of fine wines and botanicals found in the Alpine meadows above Chambery. Together they impart a fresh and elegant nose, with a subtle and complex palate. Dolin Vermouths are notably lighter, drier and less pungent than their larger commercial counterparts. The particular mixture of plants found near Chambery give a fresh, restrained and elegant nose, with a subtle, complex palate. Dolin Dry makes an excellent cocktail, but is also a fantastic aperitif.
Cocchi Americano Aperitif has been produced since 1891. It is based on an all-natural recipe containing white wine, sugar, and alcohol-infused herbs and spices, including Artemisia flowers, gentian roots, and peels of bitter orange. Small batches of wine are spiced and then left to age for a minimum of one year. This excellent aperitif wine has long been a staple of Asti, and is now an important ingredient in numerous cocktails.
Absinthe was banned in the United States for nearly a century, and Kubler is the first genuine Swiss absinthe to be released in the U.S. market since. It comes from the Val-de-Travers where absinthe was invented in the late 19th century, and it is produced according to its original formula. Kubler 53 is distilled with herbs grown in the Val-de-Travers; Artemisia Absinthium–more commonly know as wormwood–is the primary ingredient in a formula that also includes coriander, mint, anise and fennel among other herbs and botanicals.
Next issue…… smoke and fire