I don't know if there is any drink more autumn than an apple bourbon cocktail. Think of it as a very adult version of an apple cider. It's an easy cocktail full of fall flavors with apple cider, Luxardo cherry syrup, rich bourbon and apple butter...that's right, apple butter in a cocktail. And it will be your new favorite thing.
I will admit bourbon is not my favorite choice for cocktails. But I have been trying to get into it, as it has become so popular. And I definitely find that during the fall and winter, the nutty rich taste of Bourbon really hits the spot in a cocktail. This apple bourbon cocktail and my maple bourbon cocktail get a lot of playing time this time of year.
My apple bourbon cocktail recipe is totally inspired by Half Baked Harvest's apple butter old fashioned. I tried this as-is, and then tweaked it a bit with a few of my favorite things - vanilla beans and Luxardo cherry syrup (and the cherries).
Do I have to make my own apple butter?
I made apple butter this fall with the 1000 pounds of apples my kids' picked at the orchard, but you can and should use store bought apple butter for this recipe (making your own at this point is dumb and not what this blog post is about). It thickens the cocktail, perfectly compliments the nutty bourbon and gives a concentrated apple and spice flavor - and a little goes a long way.
This is a relatively simple drink. The only thing you may not have is Luxardo cherry syrup. It is delicious and actually tastes like a deep dark cherry; unlike maraschino cherries and their syrup, which tastes more like sugar than cherry. Try to get the luxardo syrup, you will use it more than you think in cocktails and cakes too.
Here's what you'll need for the apple bourbon cocktail:
- Apple cider
- Apple butter
- Lemon juice. This will brighten it up a bit.
- Bourbon. You can use your favorite here, I like a nutty flavor and always use either Bulleit or Makers Mark.
- Vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste. I really like how the vanilla smooths out the entire cocktail. It goes so well with the warm and toasty bourbon.
- Luxardo cherry syrup or cherries in their syrup
- Soda water. I like to put a touch of soda water to add some bubbly to this cocktail.
- Sliced apple and cinnamon sticks for a fun cocktail garnish
What are Luxardo cherries?
Luxardo or Amarena is basically the adult version of a maraschino cherry. They have a rich dark ruby color, and actually taste like a cherry. These are cherries you actually want to eat and they come in the most luxurious thick and sweet syrup ever. Here is the thing though...they are kinda expensive. So if you are not rich do not f'ing worry, cause Trader Joe's makes Amarena cherries, and they are just as delicious.
At the end of the day though, if you've got maraschino and want to use those, then go for it.
Making apple bourbon cocktail takes only a matter of minutes, and there is no muddling required. Take everything but the garnish and the soda water, and put in a cocktail shaker. Shake the heck out of it to get the apple butter totally blended in, pour over ice, top the glass with a touch of soda water, and you've got an Apple Bourbon Cocktail. And get drinking, my friends.
This apple bourbon cocktail really couldn't be easier, so I don't have a lot of tips, but one big one is to not forget the lemon juice. It really brighten up the drink a bit, and apple cider and apple butter are very sweet and the bourbon is nutty and rich. Lemon juice helps create a balanced cocktail.
- cocktail shaker
- ½ cup apple cider
- juice from ½ a lemon
- dash of orange bitters
- 2 tablespoon apple butter
- ½ cup bourbon
- 1 tablespoon cherry syrup I use Luxardo or Amarena
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or scrape half a vanilla bean
- cherries, sliced apples and cinnamon for garnish
- soda water
- In a cocktail shaker combine the cider, lemon juice, Angostura bitters, apple butter, bourbon, vanila bean and cherry syrup. Shake well until totally combined.
- Pour into cocktail glasses over ice about ½ way full. Top it off with soda water and garnish with cherries, apple slices and cinnamon stick