Stepping outside my apartment one morning this week, I noticed the air smelled crisp and autumnal. Summer doesn't officially end until September 22, but plenty of things that herald the fall season are already upon us: the first day of school, the Jewish New Year, and of course, apple-picking season.
Apples ripen in many East Coast orchards between late August through October, and for me they are the mainstay of the season. I can't say I've ever placed an apple on my teacher's desk, but each year I celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the traditional apples and honey, which symbolize the sweet year that is to come.
With these things swirling in my brain, it's hard not to think of apples when it comes to cocktails to serve in early fall. These recipes feature applejack. Calvados may be smoother and arguably more refined, but applejack makes cocktails seem bolder and more vigorous. It holds up well with sweeter stuff, too—my final cocktail is the sweetest of the bunch, combining applejack and honey liqueur in a proper Rosh Hashanah cocktail.
Pomme en Croute
This recipe is a twist on the Brandy Crusta, a classic New Orleans cocktail. Chris Hannah, a bartender at Arnaud's French 75, dreamed up this cocktail (which was featured in Food & Wine Cocktails 2012.) I've adapted it further to feature applejack instead of Calvados alongside Campari and fresh citrus.
The Un-Pink Lady Cocktail
This variation on the classic Pink Lady cocktail is definitely on the paler side of the color spectrum. The original drink gets its name the pink hue it takes on when grenadine is added, but this interpretation uses pomegranate molasses in its place. That substitution makes for a tarter drink, but the feminist in me likes that it isn't pink; The Bartender's Book, published in 1951, suggested the Pink Lady's non-threatening appearance likely appealed to women to didn't have experience with alcohol. Suffice it to say, that's not an issue I have.
If you're looking for a light, fresh fall cocktail, herbal with gin and bright with fresh lemon, this is one to put on your must-make list.
Sweet New Year Cocktail
In the Jewish faith, Rosh Hashanah marks the new year. It's a time for celebration, and apples and honey symbolize the sweet year that is to come. With that in mind, it's hard to conjure a cocktail with the two ingredients that doesn't smack you in the face with sweetness. This libation is, admittedly, sweet, but applejack is a hardy spirit with a punch. It stands up well against the honey liqueur.
About the Author: Rachel Tepper is a food writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Edible DC, Washington City Paper and other publications. She loves a good Scotch.