Before we begin, I wish to make one thing perfectly clear: You can drink an Old Fashioned in absolutely any season. A brisk autumn day is not a requirement; no crackling fireplace need be present to enjoy this classic. But while I’ve enjoyed my share of these beauties in spring and summer, there’s no denying that they’re perhaps tastiest when the leaves are falling and there’s a hint of a chill somewhere on the breeze. If you’re anything like me, you’re making yourself (or ordering) Old Fashioned’s with ever-increasing frequency come September, and it occurs to me that perhaps a little variation would be welcome.
Enter the Apple Old Fashioned.
As good as they are made in the classic style—bitters and sugar muddled together with a tiny bit of water, topped with a big ice cube or two and bourbon or rye (sometimes brandy), stirred, and garnished with an orange wedge, cocktail cherry, or both—the Old Fashioned is a drink that’s very easy to tweak to suit your purposes. Sub an apple slice and some apple bitters for the orange wedge and traditional bitters and you can call it good. But brandy is sometimes used in place of whiskey in these things nowadays, and that’s the switch that makes this particular cocktail sing.
Calvados! You delicious, French, apple brandy, you! You’ve set my sweater-weather heart aflame. For the record, calvados can be great all on its own, as well. If you’ve never had the pleasure, it’s very apple-y, it’s is aged in barrels for a minimum of two years, and it’s great in an Old Fashioned.
- 2 oz. V.S. calvados (I used Claque-Pepin Calvados Fine)
- 1/8 oz. 1:1 maple/simple syrup (or to taste; more on that below)
- 5 drops lemon bitters
- 10 drops apple bitters (I used Dashfire Spiced Apple Bitters)
- 1 slice apple for garnish
Combine maple simple syrup and calvados in the bottom of a rocks (or Old Fashioned) glass. Add a big ice cube (or a few regular-sized ones) to your glass and stir to chill. Add bitters and swirl the glass to combine. Garnish with slice of apple. Feel like a very fancy Autumn Person.
About the maple simple syrup: No, just adding maple syrup won’t work. It’s too heavy. Go ahead and make a simple syrup, but sub maple syrup for the sugar (mix equal parts hot water and maple syrup, stir well). Also, it’s pretty damn sweet, so if, like me, you like to be able to taste your booze, add to taste.