Nothing says fall like jugs of fresh apple cider, and one of the best ways to use up that sweet, autumnal goodness is with a bourbon-based apple cider martini.
The secret to this martini is a spiced brown sugar simple syrup that amplifies the flavor of the apple cider and imbues the cocktail with the undeniable flavors of fall. The result is a cocktail that is perfectly balanced, easy to make, and pleasing to even the most discerning of cocktail drinkers.
Apple cider martinis are perfect for fall brunches, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving, and leisurely autumn gatherings. They have enough body and acidity to stand up to heartier dishes and enough sweetness to be enjoyed on their own. However you serve them, make sure there’s enough for several rounds!
The ratio for this cocktail is 2:2:1 (2 parts spirit, 2 parts sweet, 1 part sour), which makes it very easy to scale up and pre-batch for a large gathering. If you’re making the apple cider martini in large quantities, take extra care to accurately measure the proportions to maintain a balanced drink.
This cocktail uses a simple syrup made with light brown sugar infused with cinnamon, clove and star anise. To make this simple syrup, you’ll use a 1:1 ratio of water and brown sugar, and steep the spices in the syrup for several hours.
A good steep time is 3-4 hours, but you can increase or decrease the steep time depending on your desired flavor intensity. You can also make more or less syrup depending on how many martinis you plan on making.
What You Need to Make an Apple Cider Martini
To make this cocktail, you’ll need a few staple kitchen items (lemons, light brown sugar), whole warming spices (cinnamon, clove, star anise), apple cider, and bourbon. If you don’t have whole spices, you can use their powdered form, just make sure to run the syrup through a sieve to prevent grittiness.
If you don’t have bourbon, you can substitute whiskey, rye, spiced rum or plain vodka. Avoid using scotch or gin as their intense flavors will overpower the apple cider.
- Apple Cider
- Light Brown Sugar
- Cinnamon Stick
- Whole Cloves
- Star Anise
- Lemon Juice
How To Make an Apple Cider Martini
Make the spiced simple syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and star anise. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add in the brown sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let cool completely. Taste the syrup after 1-2 hours and continue to steep the spices until your preferred flavor is reached. Strain out the spices using a fine mesh sieve, and transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
Make the apple cider martini. For an extra wow factor, rub a lemon slice along the rim of a coupe or martini glass, dip in a cinnamon-sugar mixture and set aside.
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then add in the bourbon, apple cider, lemon juice and spiced simple syrup.
Cover with the lid and shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain directly into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel or apple slice and enjoy!
Which alcohol goes best with apple cider?
Apple cider goes very well with brown spirits such as bourbon, whiskey, spiced rum or cognac. It also goes well with vodka, tequila and milder forms of mezcal.
What’s the difference between cider and apple cider?
Cider is an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermenting the unfiltered juice of apples, while apple cider is raw, unfiltered apple juice that has not undergone fermentation and is non-alcoholic.
Can I substitute apple juice for apple cider?
Yes. Apple juice and apple cider are not the same, but apple juice can be substituted if you’re in a pinch. Apple juice is typically filtered and has less body than apple cider, so the texture of the cocktail will change if apple juice is substituted.
Apple Cider Martini
For the apple cider martini
- 5 oz bourbon
- 3 oz unfiltered apple cider
- 2 oz spiced simple syrup (for a sweeter cocktail add more syrup in .5 oz increments)
- 2.5 oz lemon juice freshly squeezed
For the spiced simple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 2 whole star anise
- Make the simple syrup.
- In a medium saucepan combine water, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and star anise, then set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then add in the light brown sugar and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let cool completely.
- Taste the syrup after 1-2 hours and continue to steep until the desired flavor intensity is reached.
- Strain out the spices using a fine-mesh sieve and transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid; store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Make the apple cider martini.
- Optionally, rub the rim of a coupe or martini glass with a lemon slice, then dip the rim in a cinnamon sugar mixture and set aside.
- Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then add in the bourbon, apple cider, spiced simple syrup and lemon juice.
- Cover with the cocktail shaker lid and shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain directly into the prepared glasses.
- Garnish with lemon peel or apple slice and enjoy!
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