honeycrisp cocktail 1

A cocktail seems only appropriate given I still have dried whiskey grain schmutz on my shoes (epic pump disaster people, epic!) and smell like a fermenting tank from our five days of working out at the Bainbridge Distillery.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not so very coincidentally, this particular cocktail came out of our last trip to Seattle.

maple syrup spoonpouring rye shot

During our fall trip to Seattle, back in the olden days when we were just visiting to look at a giant copper still not to purchase one, Joel and I were in a borrowed car zipping through one of the neighborhoods whose names I can never remember (the only neighborhoods in Seattle I can ever remember the names of are Ravenna and Ballard.  Don’t know why, but those are stuck like glue) when my phone chimed with a message from my mother.

She wanted us to know that the beautiful, venerable old club (built at the start of the 20th century) where we had had our wedding was looking for a new signature cocktail and they had put out a call to members to submit ideas, one of which would be chosen.

“We should submit one.”  I told Joel.  And I immediately had an idea out of nowhere.  “It should be rye whiskey with a touch of maple syrup topped off with a really dry hard cider!  And it should have a few dashes of bitters.  Probably a twist of orange too.”

Now, this may have been born mostly of the idea of a variety of things I like to drink, all stirred together in a single glass.  I enjoy the spiciness of rye whiskey in cocktails, I double plus love bitters, and I like the dry funk of a not too sweet hard cider.  And maple syrup, well seriously, how could you not love the intense amber sweetness of a dark maple syrup?  But, I also felt like it spoke to the flavors of Minnesota.  We have friends who produce maple syrup from the woods on their land.  Rye whiskey crept over the border into Minnesota from Canada during prohibition, and from here was sent southward to larger cities like Chicago.  And Minnesota does apples really well.  We may not be the big producers as far as quantity goes, but I’m pretty sure we get some prize for quality.  This is where amazing new apple varieties are invented.

I figured that all these lovely things together would taste like a cozy afternoon by the fire on a northern November day.

honeycrisp cocktail mixing stuffhoneycrisp cocktail 2

This was the discussion.  Joel can attest to it.

And then we arrived at our destination.  This particular destination just so happened to be Essex Bar (the bar attached to Delancey and owned by Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit.  You know the pair.).  There we were meeting a friend for a drink, and there – I kid you not – I looked down at the menu and saw a cocktail that was made of whiskey, maple syrup, and hard cider, with bitters, and a little hit of citrus.

Great minds, I guess?  At the time, at least, it seemed like the craziest coincidence imaginable.

They called theirs something like the “winter cardigan.”  I call my version the “honeycrisp” (after a variety of apple developed at the University of Minnesota).  Both versions are wonderful.  Sweet, spicy, juicy, crisp, effervescent, and with the all important sparkle of balance and sophistication that bitters lend to a cocktail.

I never got around to submitting it for consideration for the signature drink of the club.  But that hasn’t stopped us from serving it at many a dinner party or evening gathering since.

honeycrisp cocktail 3

The Honeycrisp Cocktail (makes one)

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey
  • 1 Tbs. dark maple syrup (preferably grade B)
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice (optional)
  • a twist of orange peel
  • 3 dashes of bitters – preferably citrus bitters, but Angostura works fine
  • 4 oz. chilled dry hard cider (using a cider that’s on the dry side helps to keep the drink from being too sweet, but if you prefer rather sweet drinks, you can try it with a less dry cider.)
  1. In a tall glass (or awesome cocktail mug) stir together the whiskey, maple syrup, and orange juice (if using).  Add the bitters and orange peel, then top off with the cider,
  2. Enjoy.
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14 Responses to The “honeycrisp” cocktail

  1. Hey Emily!
    I’m so sorry I missed your party because I missed out on all this. I love the idea of a honeycrisp cocktail cuz that’s my favorite apple and apple juice for that matter – but to combine it with maple slyrup, orange juice and bitters – a great idea!
    How would this taste flamed on a pork tenderloin?
    Peach

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      We were sorry you missed it too! Hopefully we’ll see you sometime soon anyway. I bet this would be extremely tasty flamed on a pork tenderloin!

  2. Gudrun Witrak says:

    Emily….you make me want to curl up right now with a Honeycrisp by the fire. Cozy. You are amazing! xoxoxo

  3. Ashley says:

    Sounds amazing! I’ve been debating crossing into rye whiskey territory, and this is an excellent push to take that step. Plus I love bitters, maple syrup and the rather hard to find but very delicious not too sweet hard cider. Thanks!

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Definitely give rye a chance! And, if you find you don’t like it, you can always replace it with bourbon.

  4. Hannah says:

    What a marvelous cocktail! I can’t wait to try it. We have some lovely grapefruit bitters and amazing local hard cider, so I’m ready to go! And Essex has been on my list for quite some time…I need to pop over.

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      You must definitely give Essex a try. It’s fun! You guys do have access to amazing hard cider out there! One of my really good friends who lives in Seattle is obsessed with Finnriver cider. Have you tried it?!

  5. rye, maple and bitters are some of my faves, too!… adding cider is genius. i have never cared for hard cider on it’s own… i think this is the ticket 🙂 my rye-loving husband’s birthday is this weekend… i think a round of these at the party would do wonderfully!

  6. […] The “honeycrisp” cocktail (fiveandspice.wordpress.com) […]

  7. This cocktail sounds so good! I’d love to include it in a roundup of maple syrup cocktails I’m compiling on mainetoday.com (a lifestyle and entertainment site based in Portland, Maine). Mind if I use one of the photos in the post (with link love and credit, of course)?

  8. obesity news says:

    Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new
    posts.

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