Sometimes simple is the way to go, and given some fresh ingredients and quality bourbon, anything else would be too much. Such is the case with our bourbon spiced cider, which is just cider and bourbon with a little bit of spice.
America has a long history with cider, but it’s not the hard cider that concerns us, rather, the delicious soft cider right from the orchard. It’s an Autumn treat, and here in the Northwest, the annual apple harvest makes Autumn a genuine occasion. The downside to soft cider? Well, there is none, really. Yes, it spoils fast unless turned into booze, but we consume it long before it goes bad. One of our favorite ways to enjoy orchard cider is warm (not hot) just warm enough to steep a bit of cinnamon then sprinkled with a touch of nutmeg, and that’s either with or without the bourbon. Today, though, we’re having it with bourbon.
Although you can make your own cider, we only advise doing so if you have access to lots of fresh apples, and a cider press. Blenders and juicers only work in a pinch, so we definitely think it’s best to get cider from an orchard or farmer’s market. As far as farmer’s markets go, we prefer the Beaverton Farmer’s Market because, although you’ll still pay exorbitant market prices, we think things cost a bit less in Beaverton, and the market is huge. Take a truck and buy some produce, too, or a bushel of apples to eat with the cider.
We acquired fresh cider from local orchards, so let's pair it with local bourbon. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to whiskey in Portland, but our choice is Burnside Bourbon. Burnside has been around a while, and it’s a good quality, always reliable whiskey, and the affordable West End Blend suits us neat as well as in cocktails. Added to cider, it warms from the inside just as a cozy sweater and warm fire keep you toasty when the faded leaves begin to fall. Yes, apple season doesn’t get any better than this, so have another after getting up to put more wood on the fire. You can always rake the leaves later.
This recipe makes 4 servings. Adjust accordingly, or make the cinnamon infused cider and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and warm by the measure as needed.
8 oz Burnside Bourbon, West End Blend
16 oz Cinnamon infused apple cider
Infuse the cider by adding 16 oz fresh cider and a cinnamon stick to a saucepan. Bring to a near boil, then let simmer on low for at least 15 minutes, or to desired taste (it takes time for the cinnamon to infuse, so steep for 30 minutes to an hour or more if you like), then remove from heat.
While still warm, add the bourbon and pour into cups or mugs. Sprinkle each with ground nutmeg, and garnish with an apple slice and, optionally, a cinnamon stick.