Cocktail

A Cozy, Warming Bourbon Cider—With a Chocolatey Twist

Basil Hayden's® stars in this winter-ready riff on classic bourbon cider.

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December 21, 2020

We've partnered with Basil Hayden's®—makers of smooth, spicy-sweet Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that's perfect for mixing into cocktails or drinking neat—to celebrate special moments with friends and family. Throughout the season, we'll be highlighting delicious ideas for enjoying bourbon with your closest loved ones at small, intimate gatherings, from low-key backyard hangouts to special holiday dinners.

Here, our Resident Bartender Elliott Clark shares a cozy cocktail to sip throughout the holidays: a bourbon cocoa cider starring Basil Hayden's.


There's nothing typical about this holiday season, but there are a few traditions I'm still looking forward to. For starters, listening to "All I Want for Christmas Is You" approximately one million times (apologies to the neighbors in advance). Then there's the food: Annual must-haves include grilled pork tenderloin, my dad's one and only signature dish, and an abundant spread of cheese and charcuterie.

And of course, there's the cocktails: I like to keep things simple by batching up one hero recipe and sipping it throughout the evening—even though my parents and I may be toasting the rest of the family over FaceTime, a special-occasion drink is a must. This year, we're staying extra-cozy thanks to a bourbon cocoa cider from our Resident Bartender, Elliott Clark.

Photo by Elliott Clark

Starring the warmly spiced, baked fruit aromas of Basil Hayden's bourbon and a fragrant homemade apple cider, this winter-ready drink also incorporates a splash of crème de cacao for a hint of chocolatey sweetness that's not too overpowering.

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Top Comment:
“I've seen this book popping up all over my various social media feeds and have considered buying it, despite being okay with alcoholic drinks. Might be worth buying their holiday or summer cocktails books, which are cheaper than the others, to see if you enjoy any of the recipes? https://www.theaviarybook.com/ Good luck with your search! ”
— Faith D.
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"When you think of chocolate, apples, cinnamon, clove, and Basil Hayden's bourbon—the flavors of those ingredients all mesh really well together," Elliott says. "With hot cocktails, you can really taste the bourbon on the front, so you get those nice spice notes from the Basil Hayden’s from the first sip. On the backend, you get the apple-y sweetness from the cider, and a bit of cocoa from the chocolate liqueur." If you don't have (or can't find) the crème de cacao, don't worry—the homemade cider and Basil Hayden’s bourbon are a perfect combo on their own.

This drink not only hits all the right tasting notes for this time of year, it also has the added benefit of being a cinch to batch up and make-ahead friendly. "If you prep the cider ahead of time, it'll last in the fridge for about two weeks," says Elliott. "When you're ready to drink, just warm it up on the stove and it's ready to go.” Oh, and another bonus: "The cider is a great substitute for holiday candles—it makes your apartment smell great," he says.

But whether you make it ahead or the morning of, the real beauty of this cocktail is that once it's stirred and warmed, it's ready to serve. "I’ve had a hell of a year," says Elliott, "so I want to rest and relax, and really enjoy time with my family. I don’t want to be mixing up individual cocktails all night in the kitchen."

For family or friends you can't spend the holidays with, Elliott suggests giving them a sippable gift: a jar of the homemade cider (or a printout of the recipe, if you'll be shipping a box), a bottle of Basil Hayden's, plus an orange and a bar of dark chocolate for the garnishes. This build-your-own bourbon cider kit is a delicious, DIY-friendly way to show your favorite people that you're thinking about them this season, wherever they may be.


What's your go-to holiday cocktail? Tell us in the comments!

We've teamed up with Basil Hayden's®—makers of artfully aged whiskeys, like smooth Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and a more complex, ruby-hued Dark Rye—to highlight our favorite ways to share whiskey with close friends and family all year long. Think: creative recipes for serving up at small gatherings, cocktail-making tips for elevating your homemade sips, our favorite tools for stocking your bar cart, and more.

Drink Smart®. Basil Hayden's® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40% Alc./Vol. ©2020 Kentucky Springs Distilling Co., Clermont, KY

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Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

2 Comments

BR95510 December 28, 2020
Can you share any mocktails that don't taste like the overly-sweet Shirley Temple?
 
Faith D. December 28, 2020
I've seen this book popping up all over my various social media feeds and have considered buying it, despite being okay with alcoholic drinks. Might be worth buying their holiday or summer cocktails books, which are cheaper than the others, to see if you enjoy any of the recipes?
https://www.theaviarybook.com/ Good luck with your search!