The glorious combo of whiskey and boiled cider was first introduced to me years and years ago by Helen Rosner at Saveur, and I've been making versions of the drink (every fall, like clockwork) ever since. It's never failed me.
It's a two-part recipe, but both parts are dead-simple: First you make boiled cider, a classic New England “thing” some of you may be familiar with, which is just apple cider that you...boil. (As the name might suggest!) For the cocktail, it’s just two ingredients, and four if you’re counting the garnish: boiled cider, rye whiskey, a strip of orange zest, and a cinnamon stick. Ta-da! Fall in a glass.
Use the extra boiled cider anywhere you would maple syrup or anywhere you want a jolt of sweet-tart apple essence, such as: in apple (or other!) pies, on top of oatmeal, over yogurt or ice cream, in baked goods like apple muffins or cakes, on pancakes, stirred into a glaze or frosting, or of course, in other cocktails (it’s pretty nice with vodka, or with tequila and a little spice). Also psssst if you don’t have time to make boiled cider, you can buy it.
Pour the apple cider into a big pot, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium/ medium-low. Simmer, occasionally skimming the solids off the top if you feel like it, until the cider is reduced by three fourths (about 3-4 hours, depending on how high you have the heat and your patience level; should yield about 4 cups).
Remove from heat and allow to come to room temp. Pour through a cheese cloth- or paper towel-lined mesh strainer into a container for storage (you can skip the straining if you don’t care much about the possibility of apple sediment at the bottom of your cider syrup). Keep in the refrigerator or process for canning.
For the cocktail:
Combine cider syrup and whiskey over ice in a cocktail mixing glass. Stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a strip of orange zest (squeeze the zest over drink first to release essential oils, then run zest strip around rim of glass before plopping in the drink) and a cinnamon stick, if you wish.