Does an old fashioned, seem…old fashioned? Then it’s time to try it again, but with a twist and I’ve twisted the old fashioned cocktail into an maple old fashioned, featuring homemade apple infused bourbon, a warming kick from cinnamon, and a few drops of bitters to finish it off. Let’s call this an Old New England.
Fall is here, and it’s time for comfort food and apples! In case you couldn’t tell from the title, today is all about apples.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a cocktail here. Last time was my Fresh Peach Margarita, which was a frosty and fruity drink just perfect for the hot and humid days of summer. If you haven’t noticed, though, it’s fall now!!! (I love fall! 🙂 ) So, that means it’s time for my cocktails to ease into the cooler days and longer nights we have ahead of us. Last fall I went with another margarita – a Cranberry Margarita, so I wanted to go in a different direction for this cocktail.
This time of year I want my cocktails to be a little cozier, a little spicier, and a little smoother. All qualities I have achieved in this bourbon old fashioned. WIN!
A few weeks ago, we decided to go out to dinner and both us liked the idea of trying one of their bourbon apple cocktails. My husband picked it out and I thought ‘hey, that sounds good!’ I usually go for a glass of Prosecco before dinner if I want a drink, but we were having a cool day, so apples and bourbon were rather perfect.
As I was sipping it, I knew I needed to recreate it at home. And it was going dovetail nicely with my other little project I’ve been working on.
Making my own infused liquors and shrubs!
I know what you’re thinking.
What’s a shrub?
The quick answer is that a shrub is a fermented fruit, vinegar, and sugar beverage which was popular way back before refrigerators. Want to preserve fruit without a fridge? One way is to make it into a shrub. I’ll have a bit more info on the process and the history once I have a shrub + drink recipe for you.
Today we are going to talk about infusing liquor. I have the subject marked down for an ingredient spotlight after I have a few more infusions under my belt, but I can give you a few bullet points now. (Shrubs will get the spotlight treatment at some point too since I do love getting my food nerd on.)
Why infuse liquor?
Two reasons. One, this way you don’t have to buy 10 different flavors of rum or vodka or whatever flavored liquor you’re looking at. All you have to do is flavor a cup or two from a single bottle. Two, you’re going to create a much more complex drink than with a plain liquor since you have layered the flavors in the liquor already.
Oh, and I just thought of a third reason! This way you can make your own flavors and not be dependent on someone else’s idea of what tastes good. Experiment! Have fun! 🙂
How hard is it to infuse liquor?
It’s easy! And doesn’t take too long. You will have tasty, infused liquor in a week or less. I’ve tried long running infusions (where I’m infusing things for weeks or months) and short running infusions, and I’ve decided that short infusions give you all the flavor you want, don’t get overextracted or too intense, and have the added benefit of being done before you get bored and forget about them.
Or at least before I bored and forget about them…
I don’t know about you, but I can keep a jar on my counter for up to week and remember to shake it every-so-often and not forget I’m making something. More than that, and it gets shoved aside and I may remember it or I may pull it out months later.
So far I’ve found that harder fruits take about a week, while softer fruits take more like 3-4 days. While intensely flavored add-ins, like cinnamon or hot peppers or vanilla, take a few hours to a day. Want some cinnamon vodka or bourbon? You’ll have great flavor in less than a day! Apple bourbon or rum? That’ll take a week. But it’s worth it!
What do you need to infuse liquor?
First, you need some liquor. I would recommend a good quality, but not top shelf liquor. Something you are happy to drink on its own, but won’t break the bank or have very intense and distinctive flavors which you probably don’t want to cover up.
Second, you will need some sealable glass jars. Mason jars are widely available in different sizes, so that’s what I use.
Third, whatever fruits and spices you want. In this case, I made an apple, cinnamon, and vanilla flavored bourbon. For basically whatever fruit you’ll want about a 1:1 ratio, so here I used 2 cups of bourbon and 2 cups of chopped apples. For the cinnamon and vanilla, one bean and one stick was plenty for the batch.
Fourth, filters. You need to strain out all the add-ins to make a clear infusion. I pour everything into a large mesh strainer set over a bowl to get all the big bits. Then I use a coffee strainer to get anything else. Pour your strained liquor into a glass jar, seal it up, and you’re done!
Once you have an infusion, now you have to think of a drink. Happily, I have already thought of the drink, so you can make your apple infused bourbon and then enjoy a maple old fashioned along with it.
What better way to usher in fall than a smooth, sippable cocktail full of apples, cinnamon, and vanilla? I have another batch infusing on my counter right now. In a couple of days, I’ll be making another old fashioned of my own and toasting fall along with it.
– Happy Sipping, Annemarie
Welcome fall with this maple old fashioned which features maple syrup and apple infused bourbon for a very New England take on the classic cocktail.
- 2 cups bourbon
- 2 cups chopped apples, cored but not peeled
- 1 vanilla bean, slit up the middle
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 oz apple infused bourbon
- 4 drops Angostura bitters
- 1/2 oz maple syrup
- 1 oz soda water
- apple sticks
Yes, this cocktail takes 5 days! You are infusing your own bourbon and that takes a week to do, though only a few minutes of active time. As for making the cocktail once you've infused the bourbon, that takes about 5 minutes.
Mix together the chopped apples and the bourbon in a sealable glass container. Let the mixture sit on the counter for 4 days. Shake the jar once or twice a day.
Once you like the apple flavor of the bourbon, add the vanilla bean. Let it steep for 12 hours, then add the cinnamon stick and let it steep for about 12 hours more.
Once the bourbon is done steeping, pour the bourbon into a strainer set over a bowl and discard all the solids. Then, using a coffee filter or a couple of layers of cheesecloth, filter the bourbon into a second container. Your bourbon should be completely clear after straining. If it isn't, strain it again.
Add the bourbon, bitters, and maple syrup to a shaker with some ice. Fill two rocks glasses with ice. Shake well and then divide into the glasses. Top with a bit of soda water if you wish.
- Fun garnishes include apple sticks - cut two or three apple slices into sticks, maraschino cherries, green grapes, or a slice of orange peel. Also, you can rim the glasses with cinnamon sugar (as in my photos). Rub an apple slice around the outside of the glass and then roll it in the cinnamon sugar.
- You'll only need 1-2 apples for the bourbon, so using two of the same is probably the easiest. I like a tart, crisp apple, like honeycrisp. And I really, really recommend using organic. Alcohol is GREAT at extracting and will extract every pesticide right into your infusion.
- If need be, you can substitute honey or agave nectar for the maple syrup, though you may need a little more or less. However, the maple + bourbon combo is pretty amazing.
- If you're not sure about how long you want to steep the vanilla or cinnamon in the bourbon, you can strain out the apples first and then do the other flavors separately.
- I highly recommend the apple sticks as a garnish. The apples soak up some of the bourbon while they sit and become so tasty.