Apple cider is a favorite fall beverage and there are many ways that you can enjoy it. This spiked apple cider recipe is a cold cocktail that's light and refreshing, but retains that warming aspect that makes apple cider great.
The cocktail uses aged rum and amaretto for a sweet base and unfiltered apple cider ensures you get the full flavor of fresh-picked apples. To finish off the drink, aromatic bitters balance out the flavors, soda gives it a lively sparkle, and the cinnamon stick adds warm spice while doubling as a natural stir stick. The real star of this recipe is the caramelized orange garnish. They're simple to make and infuse the cocktail with a sweet caramel-citrus flavor as you drink.
If you have a kitchen torch, use that on the sugar-coated fruit to create brûléed oranges. Otherwise, you can caramelize orange slices in the oven or on the stovetop. On average, you can get five or six slices from one orange, so you'll have plenty for a few drinks and they can be stored for a day or two.
- For the Caramelized Oranges:
- 1 orange
- 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- For the Cocktail:
- 2 ounces aged rum
- 1/2 ounce amaretto
- 3 ounces unfiltered apple cider
- 2 to 3 dashes aromatic bitters
- 1 to 2 ounces club soda (to taste)
- Garnish: 1 caramelized orange slice
- Garnish: 1 cinnamon stick
Steps to Make It
Note: while there are multiple steps in this recipe, the spiked apple cider is broken down into workable categories to help you plan for preparation and assembly.
Make the Caramelized Orange Slices
Gather the ingredients.
Slice the orange.
Set the orange slices on a paper towel and cover with a second paper towel. Press gently and let dry for about 10 minutes.
Turn the broiler on high. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Generously sprinkle the top of each orange slice with sugar and set on the prepared baking sheet.
Broil the orange slices for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the sugar is caramelized and the oranges slightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.
Make the Spiked Apple Cider
Gather the ingredients.
Fill a double old-fashioned glass halfway with ice and add the rum and amaretto.
Pour the apple cider and bitters into the glass.
Top with soda.
Garnish with a caramelized orange and cinnamon stick. Serve and enjoy.
What Alcohol Is Good With Apple Cider?
Dark spirits are the best choices for any spiked apple cider. The oak notes from an aged liquor enhance the cider wonderfully, adding a nice depth of flavor to even the simplest cocktails. Aged rum and whiskey are excellent choices, and spiced rum or whiskey gives the cider some underlying warm spice notes. Another natural companion is apple brandy. Be sure it's a true apple brandy and not the sweetened liqueur variety unless you adjust the cocktail's sweetener. Popular drinks like the Chimayó prove that apple cider is also an excellent companion with tequila; for this recipe, try a reposado or añejo tequila.
Can I Caramelize Oranges on the Stovetop?
Caramelizing oranges on the stovetop is quick and easy. The sugar gets a little more caramelized than it does under the broiler, so this method is similar to brûléed oranges. Simply place the oranges sugar side down in a hot, dry non-stick pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the sugar is caramelized. The caramel leftover on the pan's surface can make subsequent orange slices appear burnt before the sugar on the orange is caramelized. For the cleanest presentation, use a large pan that will fit all of the garnishes at once or clean the pan thoroughly between batches.
- Caramelizing oranges will create a mess. Use foil to make cleanup a breeze when broiling; do not use parchment paper which will burn or a glass dish because it may crack or shatter under the heat. For the stovetop method, soak the pan with hot water to melt the caramel then clean as normal.
- Store the caramelized oranges in a sealed container, refrigerating for up to two days. If needed, place parchment paper between layers so they don't stick together.
- Tamarind nectar is a surprisingly good pairing for apples. Use it instead of amaretto to sweeten the cocktail.
- Nearly any sparkling beverage works well in this recipe. Use sparkling wine or a sweet soda like ginger ale or cream soda. Tonic water works too and makes a great dinner drink with a drier profile, though you'll likely want to skip the bitters.
How Strong Is the Spiked Apple Cider?
Despite the liquor, this spiked apple cider cocktail is similar in strength to a glass of wine. When made with 80-proof rum, its alcohol content falls in the 10 percent ABV (20 proof) range. It's nice and relaxing but will be stronger with a higher proof rum and if you switch to sparkling wine.