At the Core of Apple Spirits

Artisanal apple brandies, liqueurs and ciders are on the rise.


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Be forewarned: Apple spirits do not mean lackluster appletinis. Instead, look for boldly flavored apple spirits, many with local ties.

“Applejack is a quintessentially American spirit, and it’s the perfect homegrown liquor for locavore drinkers,” says Paul Clarke, who organized a panel discussion of apple brandies at the 2011 Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans. “With so many new distillers coming online, many are trying their hand at apple brandy and are taking a fresh approach to this historic spirit.”

Some attribute a rising interest in heirloom apples to an increase in artisanal apple brandies, liqueurs and ciders. Just when bartenders thought they’d exhausted the pre-Prohibition cocktail canon, the next wave appears: Colonial-era drinks in which ciders and other apple spirits figure prominently. Don’t miss classics like Calvados from Normandy and apple eau de vie, particularly the superb version made by Clear Creek Distillery in Portland, Oregon, along with newcomers like Cornelius Applejack from Hudson, New York.


Try these apple spirit-based libations:

Jack Rose

1½ ounces AppleJack
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ ounce grenadine

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini or coupe glass.

Johnny Chapman

2 ounces Cornelius Applejack
4 ounces fresh apple cider
Juice of one lemon wedge
Splash of soda water
Apple slice, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in an 8-ounce Mason jar filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of apple.

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