Whiskey & Apple Cider Syrup (aka the Only Fall Cocktail You Need in Your Life)

October 24, 2018
15 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Cook time 4 hours
  • Makes 1 drink
Author Notes

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.

Read more about this recipe in the story, The 2-Ingredient Apple Cocktail You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.
Cory Baldwin

What You'll Need
  • For the boiled cider syrup:
  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • For the cocktail:
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey (or whatever whiskey you like)
  • 1 ounce boiled cider syrup (chilled or room temp)
  • 1 strip orange zest, for garnish
  • 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish (optional)
  1. For the boiled cider syrup:
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  1. For the cocktail:
  2. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • smosann
  • Julie Field
    Julie Field
  • Bob Quinn
    Bob Quinn
  • carolynemole
  • Donald Partlan
    Donald Partlan

18 Reviews

Kathleen November 24, 2021
This is my review from 2018...

KathleenNovember 23, 2018
Oh my God! OH my God! I want to drink this every day throughout the season!! I used a nice Rum...*not a Whiskey girl* and this is ABSOLUTELY fabulous...the aromas when boling the Cider are heavenly..a perfect Fall Cocktail ❤❤

And now 4yrs later, I have made this every year! And have become a Burbon girl and....OMG this is a staple in my Holiday concoctions! ❤
smosann November 24, 2021
Bit of a learning curve to prepare the apple cider syrup; I needed to be a bit more aggressive. A second "boil" got the cider to syrup consistency. Tried out the drink, with bourbon, this evening prior to the Thanksgiving gathering; perfect. Love an Old Fashioned; this recipe was similar with a bit less sweetness. Could doctor it up with a boozed up cherry and a bitter to make it closer to an Old Fashioned. At any rate, will offer it as an alt to the typical brunch Bloody Mary.
Julie F. October 3, 2021
It is a great fall drink, but a little heavy for me. I halved the whiskey and added 4 ounces of club soda. I liked it more that way: a little brighter and lighter and more to my taste. The orange and cinnamon are necessary, in my opinion!
Jul September 16, 2021
This cocktail really is the only you will want! Delicious! Well balanced and almost caramel apple-ly without being overly sweet. Reduction of cider was easy (reduced a half gallon to 2c) and without issues. Added dashes of orange bitters in addition to orange peel and cinnamon stick. Bringing on camping trip!
Cincysue November 10, 2019
When I saw this recipe we were joking “it’s the ONLY fall cocktail we need” ha ha....and then we stayed sipping on it and the orange strip starting imparting flavor and the cinnamon stick was infusing it more and more with each sip. Halfway through I said “wow! This is realllly good” and then “I DO want to drink this all fall!” It’s delicious! It’s a beautiful, balanced cocktail that isn’t fussy (once you make the cider syrup, you’re good to go). It really IS one of the only fall drinks you need!!
Bob Q. October 28, 2019
This is great and so versatile for spirit-pairing, as well as bring very festive. We found that using a Canadian Whiskey with its sherry barrel aging flavors worked really well. There will be a punch bowl of this next to my egg nog at my holiday open house party this year! For those who like their drinks on the rocks...I made "cider cubes" so the flavors don't get watered down.
Kathleen November 23, 2018
Oh my God! OH my God! I want to drink this every day throughout the season!! I used a nice Rum...*not a Whiskey girl* and this is ABSOLUTELY fabulous...the aromas when boling the Cider are heavenly..a perfect Fall Cocktail ❤❤
carolynemole November 11, 2018
So I made this in quarts yesterday and the first batch became like caramel and was too super sugary I threw it in the with the 2nd batch and tried to reduce it even more and ended up burning it all ....Ugh...Can anyone tell me the what the consistency is supposed to be like and is it super sugary.
Cory B. November 11, 2018
How frustrating! Sorry that happened. When you say you made this in quarts, do you mean you used a quart of apple cider to start with? In that case you if you didn’t cut the time, you may have reduced for too long. It is quite sweet but should taste good; I usually reduce until it’s not almost maple syrup consistency...much thicker than normal cider but looks and feels like a liquid. If you try again, just taste the cider periodically as you are reducing to make sure it still tastes good to you. Also, make sure it’s at a simmer (medium low) so it doesn’t burn.
carolynemole November 11, 2018
Thanks for the tips..yes, I should have been more clear...a quart at a time..reduced it for 2 hours...constantly checked on it...put it in a glass bowl while I reduced the other one...then 2 hours later made a drink..used the recipe above..noticed it was a like a thick syrup consistency...thought perhaps I didn't reduce it enough..put it in the 2nd batch after that had been reducing for about 2 hours...reduced both together for another hour...too long..burnt. I'll try it again...quart at a time...maybe for 1.5 hours and then put much less in one drink. Thanks so much!
Jessica November 7, 2018
The house smelled great while the cider was boiling. I used scotch whiskey as I'm not a huge fan of rye. The drink was delicious. I do not think the cinnamon stick is optional, it is mandatory. I will definitely be making this again.
Lauren November 1, 2018
It's like an autumn old fashioned. The cider syrup was wonderful with it, so simple and delicious with rye whiskey! We also added a dash of orange bitters, which I think rounded it out nicely.
Donald P. October 28, 2018
To be honest, this drink tasted mostly of rye. Cider must have similar vanilla notes. Distilling the cider was easy via a slow-cooker, high setting, no lid, overnight. I might try this one more time, with the orange peel in with the cider in the slow cooker.
David P. October 28, 2018
As a fan of rye and apple cider (separately and together), I was excited to try this, so I rushed out for a gallon of apple cider. I brought it to a boil, lowered the heat (as I read on some other sites to do), and watched as the gallon boiled away during the course of three hours. It didn’t reduce; it simply boiled away!

Any idea what I might have done wrong?
Cory B. November 11, 2018
You just need to leave it on your stove for longer!
Jim B. November 18, 2018
If it just boiled away, how would leaving it on the stove for longer help. It is gone. Same thing would have happened to me if I had kept "reducing." Is this supposed to be at a rolling simmer or a non-rolling simmer?
Sheila October 27, 2018
What a delicious fall cocktail! I used the suggested rye but plan to try this with bourbon and rum....maybe even tequila next.
And that cider syrup is amazing stuff that I can't wait to try on roasted winter squash or pork - it's like a liquid caramel apple!
Erin A. October 25, 2018
Sounds *so* cozy! I can't wait to make this.