It finally feels like fall and what better way to bring in a new season than to toast to it! I really feel like Autumn doesn't officially start until I've had my first sip of cold apple cider and listen to an Ella Fitzgerald record. Preferably my cider would come from an adorable farm stand, but the bodega down the street will have to do for now.
I was on a quest to make a cocktail that tasted like a caramel apple since I love the flavor combination, but hate eating the bulky and gooey apple on a stick version. What I ended up with was a slight sweet taste of caramel that balanced well with the cider and bourbon, but it definitely did not satiate my caramel apple craving. Regardless, it tastes like fall and is absolutely delicious!
First, you have to make the caramel simple syrup. I used this recipe from thektchn.com and they do a great job of explaining how to make it, but it took me three times to get it exactly how I wanted it so I tweaked the recipe a little.
Caramel Simple Syrup
(adapted from thekitchn.com)
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water, divided
- Pinch of salt
In a small non-stick pot, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup of the water. Stir over low heat until dissolved.
Once the sugar has dissolved completely, turn the heat up to medium high, cover the pot, and let boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the cover and stir as the caramel continues to cook. Stir until mixture is an amber color - around 8-10 minutes. One time I took it off too early, one time too late, so really keep an eye on it! I have a feeling that each stovetop and pot will have different cooking times so paying attention to the color is important.
Remove the syrup from heat. Carefully pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Be very careful when stirring the water into the caramel as it can splatter. Add a pinch of salt. Let cool.
After it cools, it's time to make the cocktail! Add 3/4 oz. of the syrup, 1 oz of bourbon and 3 oz. of cider to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and drain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an apple slice. We found these adorable mini gala apples at Jamie's local super market that worked perfectly. They were so adorably small and kid sized that Jamie's daughter, Vivian, even tried to sneak one away.
So open up a window, put on a record and toast to fall on this crisp, autumnal night! The syrup also goes great in tomorrow's autumnal morning coffee as well.
(all photos, Jamie Grill Photography)