5 Best Apple Liquors – Applejack, Calvados, Cider, and More


apple hot toddy

Christopher Testani

Sales of hard cider and other alcoholic apple drinks are up like Apple stock.

This winter, work your way through this refreshing-to-drink list, which includes hard cider, yes, but also apple vodka, applejack, calvados, and even a batch cocktail recipe that goes extra on the apples.

Why drink apple-alcohol at all, you might be wondering?

Well, we could just as easily ask you: Why wear wool sweaters? Or why listen to George Winston’s “December” on repeat? Or why stock the fridge with eggnog.

Because it’s the season, man.

Get into it.

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1

Hard Cider

Brooklyn Cider House

Fizzy like beer and low in alcohol, hard cider generally ranges from 4 to 6 percent alcohol by volume. Dry cider, since it has a lower sugar content, is more alcoholic (about 7 percent).

TRY: Brooklyn Cider House. These ciders are made from “ugly apples” (rare cider and heirloom varieties) that are fermented using mostly wild yeast.

2

Apple Vodka

Clear Creek Vodka

As in vodka made with apples. (You can make vodka from anything that has sugar and starch.) Apple vodka tastes nothing like the sugar rush of apple-flavored vodka you may have had. It’s clean, bright, and subtly sweet.

TRY: Clear Creek Vodka. Made in Oregon, each bottle houses 14 varietals of apples. Serve neat, on the rocks, or with club soda and a wedge of green apple.

3

Applejack

Laird’s Straight Apple Jack 86
totalwine.com

The name comes from the Pilgrim-era process of scraping the ice off (“jacking”) fermented apple cider until the concentration reached the desired alcohol content. Processors today, mercifully, just use steam distillation.

TRY: Laird’s Straight Applejack 86. Laird & Company, based in New Jersey, has been making applejack since (get this) 1698. Enjoy over ice or as a substitute for other brown spirits in manhattans and old-fashioneds.

4

Calvados

Avallen

Similar to its grape-based cousin cognac, Calvados is made from fermented apple cider that is distilled and aged for at least two years in oak casks. Drink it like a whiskey, neat, before or after dinner—or during it.

TRY: Avallen. This brand debuted in 2019 with the mission of using organic, bee-saving apples—a blend of 40 varieties from 300 orchards. This 40 percent ABV spirit is as complex tasting as it sounds.

5

Hard Cider Cocktails!

Crisp, bubbly, delicious in its own right— hard cider offers a formidable base to winterize. Here’s an easy batch recipe.

Pour two 16-ounce cans or bottles of dry hard cider (we
like Brooklyn Brewery’s Cider House) into a large saucepan.
Add 2 to 4 lemon slices, whole cinnamon sticks, whole
star anise, whole cloves, and ginger slices. Bring to a
simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into glasses, garnish with
another cinnamon stick or lemon slice, and serve. For the
apple enthusiast: Add a splash of applejack.

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