It's October and Permanent Fund dividend time, which are both ample reasons to be clinking glasses to a fall-forward cocktail. Lately, I've often been keeping it simple but seasonal by enjoying a nice bottle of hard apple cider. I like the carbonation and the crisp, fragrant apple notes. And, in autumn, I particularly like a hard cider with a little pinch of warm spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
My wife, on the other hand, loves an Old-Fashioned in the fall. She is entranced by the smoky aroma, the tobacco and woodiness at the front of the palate, the hint of licorice from the bitters, the deep amber color that catches the light just so and the finish of cherry. I'll admit, an Old-Fashioned is a sexy drink. But, I just haven't been able to get into them. I'm not much of a whiskey drinker myself and don't possess a taste for a drink that stiff in the first place.
So, we would sit across the table from each other, playing a game of cribbage, with my cider and her Old-Fashioned in hand, the scent of each one meeting and mingling in the air in a way that made sense. It finally struck me that the two drinks together could make one fine fall cocktail, with all the things that she loves about her Old-Fashioned, mellowed by the effervescence and crisp sweetness of the cider. Feel free to adjust the ratios to your liking, adding more or less cider to taste.
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
1 teaspoon birch or maple syrup
3 drops aromatic bitters
1 pinch pie spice
4-6 ounces hard apple cider
To an Old-Fashioned glass, add the whiskey, syrup, bitters and pie spice. Stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice. Top with hard apple cider and stir. Enjoy.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.