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Fall in love with apple cider cocktails.

apple cider cocktails (Globe photo / Jim Scherer)
By Adam Reid
October 10, 2010

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Autumn in New England is a veritable celebration of apples. Here, we toast apple cider in many forms, from punches (one boozy and the other not) to the mild, effervescent Kir Normand and Apple Shandy to hard-core cocktails, including the Apple Sidecar. In their 1968 volume The Presidents’ Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks attribute the New England Cider Cup punch to John and Abigail Adams. One taste and you’ll know the cider enthusiasts were on to something good.

New England Cider Cup

Serves 6 (makes about 2 quarts)

This recipe is adapted from a 1964 Gourmet magazine recipe.

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest (removed with a vegetable peeler in large strips) and ¼ cup juice from 1 large lemon

¾ cup brandy

1/3 cup Cointreau, triple sec, or other orange-flavored liqueur

1 quart apple cider, chilled

3 cups sparkling water, chilled

Apple slices, for garnish, optional

In a large pitcher, stir the sugar and lemon zest until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, brandy, orange liqueur, and cider, stir to mix, and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. Remove and discard the lemon zest, add the sparkling water, and stir gently to blend. Fill 6 12-ounce glasses with ice cubes and a portion of the punch, garnish with apple slices if desired, and serve at once.

Blackberry-Ginger Cider Punch

Serves 6 (makes about 2 quarts)

The recipe yields enough blackberry coulis for 2 batches of punch.

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

1½ cups fresh or thawed frozen blackberries

Salt

1½ quarts apple cider, chilled

12 ounces ginger beer, chilled

1½ cups sparkling water, chilled

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Ice cubes

Apple slices, for garnish, optional

In a medium saucepan, stir the sugar and ginger until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the blackberries, a pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons water, then set the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally and pressing berries against the side of the pan, until the berries break down, about 4 minutes. Set a medium-mesh sieve over a medium nonreactive container and strain the berry mixture, working the solids with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula to extract as much coulis as possible (you should have 1 cup; discard the solids). Stir to mix, cover the container, and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

In a large pitcher, gently stir ½ cup blackberry coulis, cider, ginger beer, sparkling water, and lemon juice to blend. Fill 6 12-ounce glasses with ice cubes and a portion of the punch, garnish with apple slices, if desired, and serve at once.

Apple Sidecar

Makes 2 cocktails

Another version of the sidecar uses orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau or triple sec, in place of the amaretto used here. The orange liqueur underscores the fruitiness of the Calvados.

Ice, preferably cracked or small cubes

4 ounces Calvados

3 ounces apple cider, chilled

4 teaspoons amaretto

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon twists

Fill a cocktail shaker about halfway with ice and add the Calvados, cider, amaretto, and lemon juice. Cover and shake to blend and chill, about 15 seconds. Divide between 2 chilled martini glasses, twist a lemon twist over each, drop it in, and serve at once.

Kir Normand

Makes 2 cocktails

Normandy is French apple country, and this is the region’s take on the classic kir.

2 teaspoons creme de cassis

1½ cups hard apple cider, chilled

Into each of 2 champagne flutes or stemmed wine glasses, add 1 teaspoon creme de cassis. Slowly pour ¾ cup cider into each glass and serve at once.

Apple Shandy

Makes 2 drinks

This is an autumnal take on the classic shandy, a mixture of beer or ale and lemonade or lemon-lime soda. The drink will be a little sweeter, and less potent, with the sparkling cider.

1 bottle (12 ounces) dark beer, preferably oatmeal stout, chilled

12 ounces sparkling apple cider or hard apple cider, chilled

Pour 6 ounces each of beer and cider into each of 2 frosted beer glasses. Stir very gently and serve at once.

Stone Fence

Makes 2 cocktails

Ice, preferably cracked or small cubes

4 ounces bourbon

10 ounces apple cider, chilled

6 drops bitters

Orange twists

Fill 2 Old Fashioned glasses about halfway with ice, add 2 ounces bourbon, 5 ounces cider, and 3 drops bitters to each, and stir gently to blend. Twist an orange twist over each, drop it in, and serve at once.

Apple Tree

Makes 2 cocktails

Ice, preferably cracked or small cubes

4 ounces applejack

4 ounces apple cider, chilled

1½ teaspoons dry vermouth

Lemon twists

Fill a cocktail shaker about halfway with ice and add the applejack, cider, and vermouth. Cover and shake to blend and chill, about 15 seconds. Divide between 2 chilled martini glasses, twist a lemon twist over each, drop it in, and serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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KITCHEN AIDE
Bubbly cider

There are two types of carbonated cider. Hard cider is fermented, so some of its sugars are converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide – hence the bubbles. Its alcohol level is generally low, it can be filtered or cloudy, and the flavor tends to be dry and earthy, perhaps with a tiny bit of residual sweetness. Hard cider is sold in bottles in liquor stores and some grocers and can be found on tap in pubs all over the United Kingdom.

So-called sparkling cider, on the other hand, is nonalcoholic. It is filtered apple juice that has been carbonated, creating bubbles, and pasteurized, so it does not ferment, says John Martinelli, president of Martinelli’s, a large producer of sparkling cider based in Watsonville, California. You can find Martinelli’s cider in grocery stores.