Apple of my Rye
Shake with ice, then strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass.
Garnish with apple wheel.
This week, summer finally gave way to fall. The longer shadows and shorter days have me dusting off bottles of brown liquor and seating them at the front of the class. Although Starbucks has been slinging pumpkin spice lattes for a month, I’m easing into the season with apples.
I’ve been hearing a lot about dry, Basque ciders and want to try one. I’m thrilled to find that just such a cider is made nearby in Monkton, Maryland. Millstone’s Sidra Americana is a still (not effervescent) cider that bills itself as a “rustic Basque style cider.” I head home and pour a glass. Funky, tart and dry with a nose that hints at honeysuckle, it bears little resemblance to the overly sweet hard ciders I’ve had in the past. Switching to Sidra Americana is like merging onto the highway in a BMW after a lifetime of driving Honda Civics.
Made by fermenting the apples’ fresh juice with their skins, which have naturally occurring yeasts, pectin and tannins, fermentation requires no additional sugars or yeasts and makes you appreciate apples on a whole new level.
Not satisfied to sip it with dinner, I decide to use it in this week’s cocktail. I grab a bottle of Redemption Rye off the bar and a jug of apple cider. Looking for a flavor to complement apple and rye, I reach back for my bottle of Root Organic Liqueur that I use all fall and winter in hot toddies and surely should use more often. Root is an organic spirit made with Birch bark, wintergreen, sassafras, sarsaparilla and other organic herbs that grew wild in Pennsylvania in colonial times. It was originally conceived, as is so often the case, as an herbal remedy. Known in the 1700s as “root tea,” the recipe was introduced to settlers by Native Americans. Centuries later, Prohibition stamped out the alcohol and gave rise to root beer. Boo, Prohibition! Yay, root beer floats!
I pour my ingredients into a shaker filled with ice: one-and-a-half ounces of Redemption Rye, one-and-a-half ounces of Sidra Americana, one ounce of Root and two ounces of apple cider. I shake until frost forms on the outside of the shaker then strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Feeling extra fancy, as I sometimes do, I slide an apple wheel garnish onto the rim and take a sip.
SO much better than a pumpkin spice latte.