It's prime picking season for apples in Nebraska. Temperatures are dropping. When it's cold out, you don't want to grab an iced martini or a canned beer quite as much as you do in the hot summer months. Cider, be it alcoholic or virgin, is a great building block for boozy drinks in the colder months.
Boz Hicks, the bar manager at Jake's Cigars and Spirits said the drink's natural sweet taste works well within cocktails; it has the same sugariness that you'd get from any soda. You get the sweetness and the bubbles in one big splash, he said. The drink also has a natural tartness, which helps out. Hicks said he hopes to roll out a few cider drinks when Jake's revamps its menu in early November.
Noah Mock, head bartender at J Coco, is giving a traditional cider drink a bit of fire, without actually warming it up. He infuses apple cider with cinnamon, clove and allspice and added his own tamarind chili syrup. He throws in some Koval millet whiskey, a unique kind of spirit sourced from Chicago and a little bit of lemon juice. Mock said this “Second City Cider” screams fall. “[Apple cider] gives you a warming sensation, even if you drink it cold,” Mock said later.
Downtown restaurant and bar Wilson and Washburn is taking a more simple play on a cider cocktail. The bar serves a spiked cider, made with Ace Pear Cider and Captain Morgan rum, which the bar infuses with allspice. “It really makes the rum pop a little bit more,” co-owner Jeff Luby said.
Clark Ross of The Boiler Room restaurant is playing with a drink made with an unsweetened, uncarbonated fermented cider, imported from the Basque region of southern Europe. He said it tastes somewhat like an uncarbonated apple beer with a lot of wild yeast in; there's almost nothing like it. The debuted at the restaurant on Tuesday and features this cider blended with housemade apple bitters, a peach-and-spice liquer and a bit of small-batch bourbon.
Lyle Ditmars, owner of Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard, said his orchard makes nonalcoholic, pure apple juice, unpolluted with any additives, save for a mild preservative. This results in a sweet cider, what is often turned into hard cider through fermentation.
Ditmars has a formula for rolling out a really good batch of nonalcoholic cider. Each has two or three different varieties of apples; two sweet varieties, paired with one tart or semi-tart. He said this mixture gives the cider an even better flavor. The orchard rolls out 15 to 18 thousand gallons a year.
But when it comes down to drinking the stuff, Ditmars is a purist.
“Good cider, in my opinion, doesn't need anything else,” he said. “Of course, I'm the guy that eats the steak without the steak sauce.”
Recipe: Apple Cider Sangria
• 1 bottle of Moscato wine
• 1 cup light rum
• 3 to 4 cups of apple cider
• 1 to 2 cups of ginger ale
• Apple slices
Chill the liquid ingredients and mix together. Place apple slices in finished sangria or use as a garnish on the glass.
— Recipe courtesy of Ditmars Orchard and Vineyard
Recipe: Cider Cocktail
• ¾ cup cider (Martha Stewart recommends fresh pressed apple cider)
• 1/3 cup bourbon
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• Two 2½ inch long slices of fresh peeled ginger
Mix these ingredients together. The recipe should serve two.
— Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living
Apple Cider Margarita
• 1 ounce Grand Marnier
• 1 ounce gold tequila
• 5 to 6 ounces sweet apple cider
• Orange segments and apple slices
• Cinnamon sticks for garnish
• Cinnamon, cane and course sugar for glass rimming
Add a few spoonfuls of cane sugar, course sugar and cinnamon to a plate. Run an orange segment around the edge of the glass, then press into the sugar mixture to coat the rim.
Add a few orange slices in the bottom of the glass, fill with ice, then add the Grand Marnier, tequila and apple cider. Stir to mix. Garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks.
— Recipe courtesy of howsweeteats.com.
Ginger Lime Cider Shandy
• 350 milliliters chilled beer (the recipe recommends a pale lager)
• 350 milliliters chilled alcoholic apple cider
• 350 milliliters chilled carbonated lemonade/lemon-lime soda (such as Sprite, 7-Up)
• 1 lime
• 1 large knob ginger
Slice the ginger and cut the lime into wedges. Remove seeds. Muddle the ginger and lime to release the juices. Try to avoid bruising the peel of the lime; it releases a bitter taste.
Place muddled ginger, lime and juices in a pitcher. Pour beer, cider and lemonade into the pitcher. Let the flavors infuse for a few a minutes. Pour into glasses and serve immediately. Add ice but not too much to avoid diluting the flavors.
— Recipe courtesy of theindolentcook.blogspot.com.
Black Currant Cider Sparkler
• ¼ cup black currant juice
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 1½ cups chilled sparkling cider
• Lemon peels for garnish
Combine black-currant juice with lemon juice. Add sparkling cider. Divide between 2 glasses, and garnish each with a lemon peel.