5 Incredibly APPLE DRINKS: Read Or Miss Out

The cider renaissance has had serious staying power. Here are 5 drink picks for this fall that are all about apples.
A glass pitcher surround apples

One of the highlights during this time of year for me has always been the ability to enjoy fantastic fresh fruits that have ripened, in particular apples, which interestingly are the second most valuable fruit grown in the USA after oranges. According to PickYourOwn.org the most active period for harvest/ripening of apples in New York is September 1 to October 25.

Most apples are still picked by hand, if you can believe it. You can always get out and experience it for yourself by taking a day trip into the fresh outdoor air to pick your own apples. By visiting a pick-your-own apple orchard you can see for yourself how apples are grown and meet the growers behind America’s’ favorite fruit (Another fun fact: Americans eat more apples per capita than any other fruit, fresh and processed combined.)

Since New York State is the 2nd largest producer of apples in the country and since the fall harvest season is upon us, in honor of apple ripening season here are my 5 “picks” for Apple Based Drinks this Fall:

Is it Juice or is it CiderApple Cider and Apple Juice

What’s in a name? I always thought the caramel-colored sweet beverage I picked up this time of year at my local grocer was cider and the golden liquid from Tropicana was juice. Well, the New York Apple Association says “legally, the federal government doesn’t differentiate between ciders and juices. So when you look around grocery stores and farm markets, you may find that beverage producers can be squishy about how they use cider terms.”

So then what’s a hard cider? During the industrial revolution and later Prohibition Era as it became more favorable and economically motivating to eat apples rather than ferment them, the meaning of the word “cider” transitioned to mean “apple juice” or “sweet cider” as a way to respond to the times. We are in the midst of a cider revival. Over the last several years the surging cider industry in NYS and the USA has focused on revisiting and redeveloping craft-based and artisanal processes for producing this delicious beverage. Thus the word “CIDER” has come to mean fermented apple juice just as the word “WINE” means fermented grape juice.

Companies and individuals are now using the word “cider” (already in use and familiar in other countries as the fermented juice of apples) to identify a variety of adult beverages (aka alcoholic) that are fermented from apples. And words like “juice” or “sweet cider” or “fresh-pressed” are being used by many to identify the non-alcoholic version whether it is the caramel-colored beverage that is unfiltered or minimally filtered as well as the mass-produced and highly filtered golden-colored version that may come from concentrate.

Cyder Market LLC has created a great one-stop resource for information and links to hard cider, cider products, makers, equipment, supplies, supporters and events in the USA and worldwide. Check out their run down of NYS ciders and cideries.

And if you get a chance, check out Cider Week NYC which runs from October 21 – 30 this year. Or visit New York City’s first cider bar Wassail. Wassail is a cider focused bar and restaurant located on the Lower East Side, on, yes, you got it, Orchard Street. Wassail an extensive selection of apple-based cocktails, as well as 90+ ciders on draught and by-the-bottle.

Forbidden Apple Cocktail with Brandy and Champagne

The Forbidden Apple Cocktail

by Jacques Bezuidenhout (Liquor.com)

Some people believe it all started with an apple, the forbidden one. Here is a twist on the classic Champagne Cocktail but this one has an extra kick with apple brandy and orange liqueur.

Ingredients in the Forbidden Apple Cocktail

  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • .5 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz Calvados
  • 4 oz Champagne


  • 1 Orange twist
  • Glass: Flute

How to Make the Forbidden Apple Cocktail

  1. Add the first three ingredients to a Champagne flute and top with the Champagne.
  2. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Tender Knob

The Tender Knob

by H. Joseph Ehrmann (Liquor.com)

How is your “knob” feeling? Try this apple, bourbon and cinnamon creation, perfect for autumn.

Ingredients in the Tender Knob Cocktail

  • 1 slice Organic Granny Smith or Fuji Apple (eighth inch)
  • 1.5 oz Knob Creek Bourbon
  • 2 oz Alcoholic apple cider
  • .75 oz Agave nectar
  • 1 pinch Cinnamon


  • 1 Apple slice
  • Glass: Old Fashioned

How to Make the Tender Knob Cocktail

  1. In a shaker, muddle the apple slice.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice.
  3. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Do not double-strain; you want some apple bits in the finished drink.
  5. Garnish with an additional apple slice.

Bacon Infused Apple Cocktail

Bacon-Infused Apple Bourbon Cocktail

Who doesn’t like bacon!? Combining two of people’s favorite ingredients, this delightful concoction was developed, prepared and served at The St. Paul Grill, annually ranked the best restaurant in Minneapolis-St. Paul (USApple.org). Note, to do this one right, you’re going to need three days of prep time.

  • Ingredients: 7
  • Serves: 1
  • Total Time: 5 min (plus three days to infuse the bourbon if you’re doing it right)

Ingredients for the Bacon-Infused Apple Bourbon Cocktail

  • 3 fl. oz apple cider
  • 1 slice fresh sweet-tart apple


  • 1 cup of bacon grease
  • 750 ml bourbon


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of cinnamon

How to Make the Bacon-Infused Apple Bourbon Cocktail

  1. For bacon-infused bourbon, combine 1 cup of bacon grease with 750 ml of bourbon in a food-safe container. Cover tightly and refrigerate for three days. After three days, remove lid and scoop the hardened bacon fat off of the top of the bourbon and discard. Strain bourbon through a coffee filter, cheese cloth, or tea strainer.
  2. For cinnamon simple syrup, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar, and 1 stick of cinnamon. Heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. To create cocktail, mix two fluid ounces of bourbon, apple cider and one fluid ounce simple syrup together in cocktail shaker with ice.
  4. Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with cinnamon stick and a sweet-tart apple slice.

Apple Smoothie with Spice

Apple Smoothie with Spice

by Chef Robin Asbell (USApple.org)

This non-alcoholic frappe is a great refresher for the enjoying the season.

  • Ingredients: 5
  • Serves: 2
  • Total Time: 10 min

Ingredients in the Apple Smoothie with Spice

  • 1 large Fuji, Gala or another eating apple, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 cup almond milk, vanilla (or sub coconut, soy or dairy milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pie spice
  • 4 ice cubes

How to Make the Apple Smoothie with Spice

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender, in order.
  2. Frappe on high to blend.
  3. Serve immediately.
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John is a thinker and a doer. He's a whiz at working through policies and procedures but loves taking time to explore the urban environment in which he lives and calls home. He also appreciates getting his fancy tickled.