When he's not busy running the cocktail program at New York City's Maialino, Erik Lombardo is giving us the rundown on all things spirits -- and showing us the best ways to drink them.
Today: Turn down the thermostat, sit out on the porch; this mulled cider drink will warm you from the inside out.
As the shadows lengthen and the leaves make their way across the sidewalks, our after-work drink of choice veers steadily away from something bright and refreshing and toward something like the equivalent of slowly sinking into a steaming Jacuzzi. For the lucky few this means crackling fireplaces, but for the rest of us who insulate our window frames with tape and towels, it means a certain drink: the Franklin Stove.
Mulling alcoholic beverages with herbs and spices goes far back in history, and in fact today’s mulled cider is a descendent of the English Wassail, a warm beverage made from combining sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cider made from last year’s apples. All of that would be topped with slices of toast and drunk from a ceremonial bowl in the orchard to ensure the success of the coming harvest. There would be singing to the trees. Symbolic sacrifices of toast.
Don't have that kind of time? The Franklin Stove requires you to do none of this.
More: Another reason to add booze to your apples: this Apple Rye Punch.
While the cider used in these ceremonies was English cider, which is always alcoholic and more like beer, there is something to be said for the use of fresh pressed apple cider combined with the above ingredients and some base spirit; an alcoholic warm apple pie in a glass. The problem is, very few of us have the time or patience to muddle everything in a saucepan for 15 minutes for a mug or two of boozy pie, no matter how intoxicatingly delicious. Enter SNAP and Allspice Dram.
Allspice Dram is a cordial steeped with Caribbean allspice, that miraculous dried berry that combines the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. SNAP is a boutique spirit made in Pennsylvania that adds the flavors of molasses, ginger, vanilla, and rooibos tea. The cider can be heated either in a saucepan in minutes or in a microwave in seconds and the alcoholic ingredients (with a little fortification from our old friend applejack) added at the last minute both spice and spike the brew.
The drink is named after Ben Franklin’s invention of an efficient fireplace and stove that could easily warm a room even in the dead of a colonial winter. And as you feel the warmth from this cocktail spread from your chest to your extremities, tip a toast to him.
1 ounce Applejack
1 ounce SNAP
1/4 ounce Allspice Dram, or a sprinkle of fresh allspice
5 ounces hot apple cider
Orange twist studded with clove, for garnish
Photos by James Ransom