We enjoy drinking hard cider, and if you can combine hard cider with bourbon, even better. Sonoma Cider makes certified organic hard ciders in micro batches, so you know they put a great deal of care into each bottle. The owners of Sonoma Cider are both huge bourbon lovers, too, so we have something in common. Even so, we aren’t afraid to admit we were skeptical about a bourbon-flavored hard cider.
At only 6% ABV, this cider reflects the beauty of the product type: low alcohol, crisp, and clean and perfect for sipping over the long haul in warm weather. Upon first taste, you immediately detect apples (rightly so!). It is slightly sweet with a lovely light carbonation. The next flavor is pretty yeasty and pretty strong. It didn’t blend in as smoothly as we would have liked. The unique part about this cider is its finish. It opens up into a caramel-and-grain roundness with a hint of vanilla and smoke.
Those familiar flavors are due to an organic bourbon flavor that is a proprietary ingredient of Sonoma Cider. We have no idea what is in this ingredient mix, but we can report that the cider does, in fact, have a flavor reminiscent of bourbon. If this is appealing to you in a cider, definitely give this product a try. If you’d rather have your cider be cider and your bourbon be bourbon, we don’t blame you for that either.
*Even though this nightcap was on Sonoma Cider’s tab, we will always review products honestly. Contrary to popular belief, free drinks don’t automatically taste better.
We moved out of Boston six months ago, just long enough to start really missing certain people and places. One of those places is Highland Kitchen, where we could just pop in and always know we would get a good meal and great drinks in a casual and fun atmosphere. This recipe is from one of their wonderful bartenders.
6 oz. Spiced apple cider
1¼ oz. Bourbon
¾ oz. Ginger liqueur
½ tsp. Allspice
Heat spiced apple cider, then stir in next three ingredients. Garnish with an orange slice.
This drink is so comforting, especially since Patrick has had a cold for weeks. We were worried at first that it would be overwhelmed by allspice, but it’s balanced nicely by the ginger. We used a wheaty bourbon, since the drink is spicy enough without adding a spicy whiskey to the mix.
We love hard ciders but rarely find the opportunity to feature them here because they have nothing to do with bourbon. The folks at Crispin must have felt our pain because they released a bourbon barrel-aged blended hard cider. Seeing the words cider, bourbon, and honey on one label was practically swoon-inducing.
The production of the cider is complicated, so we’ll let Crispin explain: “Blended using four unique apple-wines aged in both rye and bourbon American whiskey barrels. Apple-wines fermented with: Irish Stout yeast, Belgian Trappist yeast, Sake yeast, and our original Colfax Classic. The final blend is finished with Tupelo honey aged in bourbon barrels.”
The aroma of the cider is fresh and sweet with a definite whiskey scent. We felt it was a touch under carbonated, but that is really our only complaint. It has a slight sourness that is complemented by the honey. Given that ciders tend to be sweet anyway, we were concerned that the addition of honey would make this one too sweet, but that was not the case at all. This cider is crisp, refreshing, and actually tastes a bit like bourbon! The whiskey flavors come in the transition to the aftertaste.
At 6.9% ABV, this is a great afternoon sipper, though it is more expensive than your average cider. We think this unique product more than warrants the cost (which was $5.95 per 12-ounce bottle in our area).
Just a reminder, if you haven’t already voted in Saveur's Best Food Blog Awards, voting ends on Friday. We have been nominated in the Best Cocktail Blog category and would love your vote!
Apple season in New England means apple cider season as well. It also means we’re probably going to be making a bunch of autumn themed cocktails. This time, we’ve made the ciderhouse whiskey cocktail, which we found on Saveur. We were mostly intrigued by the boiled cider, which we’d never heard of before.
Boiled cider is a substitute to maple syrup that’s found throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. To make it at home, gently boil a gallon of apple cider in a heavy-bottomed pot, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to ⅛ (making 2 cups syrup), about 2 hours. Let cool to room temperature and store, refrigerated, in an air-tight container.
So, like any responsible blogger, we bought some fresh apple cider and boiled it down. We also strained it before bottling to remove all of the apple pulp.
2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. boiled cider
Combine both ingredients over ice and mix gently. Strain into a lowball glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This is a really simple cocktail with a refreshing flavor. The boiled cider lends the cider texture to the bourbon, and then the apple comes on strong in the aftertaste. We suggest using a bourbon that is not too sweet to avoid making the drink’s sweetness overpowering. We found that Bulleit worked perfectly.
Continuing our autumn cider drinks, we decided to make a warm companion to our Bourbon Ginger Apple Cider. After all, it is getting cold in New England. Considering that 90% of the houses here in Boston are basically 1 billion years old and poorly insulated, a hot drink with the warming touch of alcohol can be the perfect solution to a freezing environment. Here’s an easy recipe for the next time you need a warm drink.
Hot Bourbon Apple Cider
6 oz. fresh apple cider
2 oz. bourbon
1 cinnamon stick
¼ tsp. ground ginger (Instead of using ground ginger, we used the honey ginger tea that I like to keep around. Ground ginger will work, though.)
Warm cider, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger on stove, without letting it boil. Combine bourbon and cider in a coffee mug and drink up.
We used Woodford Reserve in this, which adds a deeper flavor and hint of vanilla to the warm cider. We both loved this drink and will definitely be making it several more times this season.
Fall is here. That means leaves are all orangey and falling down to be crunched under our feet. The cool, breezy autumn weather is also the nicest weather in New England, at least for the two weeks that it lasts. It also means apple season is in full force. Rachel picked up some fresh apple cider from the neighborhood farmers’ market so we could fix up some delicious apple cider bourbon tastydrinks. We did some Googling around the interwebs for some recipes and stumbled upon this cider cocktail from Creative Culinary. We altered that recipe a bit and came up with this:
Bourbon Ginger Apple Cider:
3 oz. apple cider
2 oz. bourbon
1.5 oz. ginger beer
Mix apple cider and bourbon. (We followed the original recipe and mixed this beforehand, letting it sit in in the refrigerator for a few hours. I don’t see why you couldn’t mix it all at one time.) Add ginger beer and serve in an old-fashioned glass with crushed ice. Garnish with an apple slice.
We used Reed’s Ginger Brew because it’s delicious and that’s what we keep on hand. But we also used less than the original recipe called for because we didn’t want Reed’s bold flavor to overshadow either the bourbon or the cider. We used Buffalo Trace bourbon, which adds a nice compliment to the sweetness of the apple cider. A nice little bonus is soaking the apple slice in your drink and getting to eat it after it’s been soaking up the cocktail.