This month's Saveur included an excellent whiskey article by Rebecca Barry. What really caught my eye was the mention of a cocktail Barry enjoyed at a Kentucky Derby party at Finger Lakes Distilling in upstate New York. There was no recipe, only fleeting poetry: "a cocktail made with beet juice, apple cider, star anise simple syrup, and rye..." Intriguing.
When I called the distillery for a recipe, I got their voicemail. Undeterred, I started adding some things to a glass. I took the creative license to use brown sugar to make the simple syrup—it just seemed right to pair the molasses-caramel to the spicy-licorice star anise, both of which matched wonderfully with the rye, beet juice, and cider.
I used an unfiltered local cider because it's what I prefer to drink—I just think it really tastes more like apples than the filtered stuff. If you had a press of your own, now'd be the time to get it out. This is a beverage for hot apple fritters with syrup and thick slabs of country ham, fried brown at the edges. This cocktail is magical.
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About the Author: Portland, Oregon native Heather Arndt Anderson is the author of the food blog Voodoo & Sauce. She was recently published in the Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia, for which she penned the Pacific Northwest chapter.