Sunday, December 12, 2010

Apple Smash & Other Holiday Cocktails

The New York Times recently published a list of holiday cocktail recipes, each one designed for a particular situation or drinking preference. In our house, the gin and tonic is the standard-bearer and while it rarely misses the mark, these drinks are festive and seemed to be the perfect accompaniment to tree trimming and overeating.

First up: the Apple Smash, which the Times declares "in honor of country cousins and obscure in-laws." It's perfect for us, too, as it requires no fancy or expensive ingredients - the biggest obstacle to drinking more cocktails at home. The Apple Smash is pleasant, reminiscent of the flavors of my favorite rum toddy, but with a bracing tang from the lemon juice. The cinnamon feels warm, slightly exotic and celebratory, and I liked watching the cinnamon granules swirl around in my glass, getting caught on the crushed pieces of ice. (I may have added a few extra dashes of cinnamon to prolong this fun.) Also, I think I would now like to always eat my apple slices pre-soaked in rum. Those two are a match made in heaven.

Apple Smash
Adapted from the New York Times
  • 2 large apple slices, like Honeycrisp
  • 2 oz white rum
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
  • 1 dash bitters
  • cinnamon stick
Mash an apple slice in the base of a glass with a muddler. Add the rum, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters; shake and strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. (We put ice in a ziploc bag and crush it with a hammer. It's not pretty but it works.) Garnish with a whole apple slice dusted with freshly grated cinnamon.

P.S. My husband actually grated a cinnamon stick for this recipe. I would have never even considered it. He is a keeper.

The Times article also included a recipe for a Rock and Rye Toddy. This included any number of hard-to-find ingredients, but Doug was enticed by the rye and came home with a bottle of Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey. In the last couple of years, rye has been making a comeback in the cocktail world. It is both harsher and drier than bourbon; many claim it has a peppery flavor that mellows into a complex spice with age.

We tried the Dandy (rye, triple sec, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters) which was sort-of an amped up Manhattan, and the Rye Club (rye, triple sec, and orange bitters) which was lighter in color and flavor from the Dandy. As it turns out (and this comes as no surprise), Doug and I like the taste of the rye more than we like any of the mixers. (One reason for that is that we were using triple sec as our orange liqueur and its artificial sweetness is more powerful than Cointreau would be.) Next time around, we'll cut down significantly on the liqueurs and bitters and try to amp up that rye whiskey flavor. (The ever-classic rye and ginger is always waiting in the wings, too.)

The Dandy
  • 1.5 oz rye
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz orange liqueur
  • 1 dash of Angostura bitters
Shake and pour over ice.

Rye Club
  • 3 oz rye
  • 1.5 oz orange liqueur
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters
Shake and pour over ice.


  1. Thanks for passing this on! I love apples in everything and had not yet adapted apples in my cocktails. Thanks so much!

  2. I need to get apple smashed right now.