The Autumn in New York (aka Harley's Harvest)

Contrary to 100% of this blog’s content heretofore, there are plenty of things I’m up for discussing besides weddings. For example, Calvados, which I was lucky enough to try for the first time on its home turf about 13 years ago at an inn in Normandy. I remember a dining room resplendent with golden amber tones, although that may have just been the view down my nose into the bottom of my snifter. In fact, considering I can’t remember much else about that night, let’s go with that.

So anyway, back to weddings. One of my most favorite things to do, as perhaps you’ve already gleaned, is write a cocktail recipe. I love it so much that I’ll even craft a cocktail I have little interest in drinking. Last fall, my friend Harley asked me to write an appletini recipe for her brother’s nuptials. (Google docs is suggesting I correct “appletini.” First choice: Appleton. I hear ya, Google docs.)

What the bride and groom wanted was an appletini bearing autumnal colors, rather than the Jolly Rancher/Marvin the Martian’s helmet tinge of Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps. Now, if it weren’t for this guy I went to high school with, I’d know even less than the next-to-nothing I do know about appletinis. And I don’t mean to come off as cocktail-snobby by saying that. Were I a few years younger and/or born a few years later, I could see how an appletini would’ve made it into my repertoire. Like back in the mid-late 90s, when I would rock a SoCo and 7 and pretend I was the Second Coming of Janis Joplin. I could see that girl fancying one.

Burnishing the appletini, in color and content, couldn’t entail much more than just futzing with apple-flavored vodka and Mott's, right? Right -- so I wrote a recipe that was probably way too involved for the unsuspecting bartenders at Harley’s brother’s wedding. (Hired help aside, Harley claims the drink fared well with the crowd in attendance, as well as the color scheme of the reception.)

Fall came 'round again and I found myself craving a cocktail to embrace the season, a drink in which you smell the curbside piles of leaves and hear the crunch of woolen fibers as you gather your sweater closer to you. That's when I remembered my old acquaintance, Calvados, and reimagined my appletini recipe to suit its richer body and more fiery belly.

The Autumn in New York (aka Harley’s Harvest)

2 ounces Busnel Fine Calvados

2 ounces Martinelli’s Gold Medal Sparkling Cider

½ ounce Licor 43

½ ounce cranberry juice cocktail

A dash or two of Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Brown sugar and cinnamon, for the rim

To make the rim:

I make my own brown sugar by combining granulated sugar and molasses. Usually I start with ¼ cup of sugar and a tablespoon of molasses in a small mixing bowl, kneading it with a fork until it’s well distributed and adding more molasses until it’s at the depth of color I like.

Even though you’re starting with molasses, your brown sugar shouldn’t wind up sticky; keep kneading if it’s still got that tar-like tackiness to it. You don’t want big clumps of brown sugar mucking up the look of your cocktail.

Pour brown sugar onto a saucer, enough to cover the top of the dish, and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Rim a cocktail glass with a cut lemon, then dip the rim in your brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Put aside while you make your cocktail.

To make the cocktail:

Pour all liquid ingredients into a shaker or mixing glass, along with a few ice cubes to chill to your taste. (I like this drink just south of room temperature.) Stir well with a cocktail spoon. Pour into rimmed cocktail glass.

Tasting Notes:

Once I find some/remember to pick some up, I’ll see how this recipe goes with Doc’s Draft Hard Cider (or another hard cider of your suggestion?) and post an update.

Suggestions of other kinds of Calvados to try? Please leave 'em in the comments.

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