The world of cider cocktails stretches well beyond the winter months, finds Laura Foster
When thinking of cider cocktails, the first thing that comes to mind is Mulled Cider, the staple of many an autumn/winter menu. This is selling cider’s mixability short, however. As an apple-based, usually crisp and refreshing drink, it has plenty to offer for cocktails in the warmer months too.
“We haven’t really seen a lot of [cider cocktails] in recent times, but there’s definitely a place for them,” says drinks consultant Julian de Feral. “Looking at some historical cocktail books, cider was an ingredient that was previously used quite liberally, but it’s been brushed under the carpet a bit.”
Things are set to change in the coming years, however, de Feral thinks: “The understanding of cider is slowly changing, much like craft beer a decade or so ago, you’ve now got a whole craft cider category. The fact that it’s being seen more as a luxury or craft commodity means that it’s got more of an application in cocktails.”
So, with cider’s star in the ascendance in mixological terms, what sort of drinks can retailers encourage their customers to try?
“Personally, I think cider and perry can take any number of roles [in cocktails], particularly if you’re taking the broader definition of a cocktail as any blended alcoholic drink,” says Susanna Forbes, co-founder of the craft cidery Little Pomona. She points to her recent creation for the coronation, where she macerated strawberries in Little Pomona’s Hard Rain Hot Pink cider, and served the resulting drink with an apple slice in the shape of a fan.
With cider’s typical low abv, it’s an excellent lengthener — consider switching it in for the wine in Sangria, or as an ingredient in a punch. “I highly recommend trying out some delicious Cider Spritz recipes,” suggests Noah Villeneuve, head of creative development for mindful drinking organisation Club Soda.
Villeneuve recommends taking Maiden Mill’s low-abv ciders Flyer and Voyager, and mixing with a shot of a non-alcoholic aperitif and some soda water.
Experimenting with this suggestion really highlights the versatility of these ingredients in being paired together. Delicate Everleaf Marine’s bright bergamot and sea buckthorn bring a touch of ethereal lightness, while Mother Root’s Ginger Switchel brings a rich spice to the drink. The best, however, must be Nonsuch Shrubs’ Bittersweet Apple & Cardamom Shrub, which brings an appley depth to proceedings alongside a rich spice complexity.
For something a bit more boozy, use your cider in place of a mixer, alongside a shot or two of your spirit of choice. The classic cocktail Stone Fence mixes cider with Bourbon or rye whiskey, giving heft to the cider.
Choose premium dry and medium-dry styles. The style of the drink might help guide the choice of abv as well. Those around 4% abv are best as lengtheners, in drinks such as the Stone Fence. A higher abv, around the 7% mark, works well in drinks such as punches and spritzes, where the cider has been substituted in for wine.
With such versatility, cider really is an incredibly easy ingredient to mix with — it’s a wonder this application had all but been forgotten.
As recommended by Club Soda’s Noah Villeneuve, this works really well with Maiden Mill’s 0.5% abv Flyer or Voyager ciders. Otherwise use a premium dry cider. This is a versatile recipe that lends itself to experimentation with lots of the exciting nonalcoholic drinks out there.
Garnish: None, or apple fan
Method: Fill glass with ice, build ingredients over ice and gently stir
■ 7.5cl cider
■ 2.5cl non-alcoholic aperitif, such as Nonsuch Shrubs Bittersweet Apple & Cardamom Shrub
■ 2.5cl soda water
A historic cocktail that dates back to at least the 19th century. The whiskey could be substituted with Cognac, Calvados or rum for variations.
Method: Pour into an ice-filled glass and gently stir
■ 6cl Bourbon or rye whiskey
■ Premium medium-dry cider to top.
By Julian de Feral and Abby Goodhall. Created exclusively for Drinks Retailing, this cider punch recipe can easily be scaled up – perfect for in-store sampling at summer events. Beguiling notes of apple and peach mix with gentle smoke and spice.
Garnish: Sliced peach and pear
Method: Build in glass over ice and stir
■ 3cl Curado Espadin tequila, or mezcal
■ 3.5cl peach purée
■ 1cl poire Williams/pear liqueur
■ 12.5cl premium dry cider
■ 1cl lemon juice
■ 1 dash Angostura Bitters