Sparkling Apple Cider Makes A Quick Fall Cocktail Base

Have you given much thought to what elevates a craft cocktail above a simple vodka and soda or Jack and Coke? The balance of interesting flavors, acid, and sweetness — along with an eye-catching presentation — are what take the same 2-ounce pour of your favorite spirit from basic to spectacular. And if that seems out of reach for at-home mixology, we're here to help with a popular pantry item that will give your fall cocktails an easy boost: sparkling apple cider.

Sparkling cider works as a quick stand-in for a fussy, flavored simple syrup that could take hours to steep and strain. The toasty flavors of whiskey, caramel notes of rum, and bright sharpness of vodka all blend well with the tart acidity of apple cider, so you've got plenty of options to play with. You can even stretch to include your favorite flavored spirits, amplifying the apple with green apple whiskey, or introducing citrus notes with lime or citron-flavored vodkas. Then, simply add a squeeze of fresh lime and a dash of bitters for a fully rounded, sparkling taste of fall in your glass.

Spiked apple coziness

Mixing up a fall sparkling apple cider cocktail is as simple as stirring an ounce or two of your chosen spirit into a chilled glass of cider. But if you want to up the "wow" factor even more, consider adding a half ounce of ginger liqueur, cinnamon whiskey, or allspice dram for an apple pie flavor that will dazzle your guests. To infuse deep citrus flavors, muddle lemon and orange wedges in a cocktail shaker, add the spirits, fill with ice, and shake well. 

Then, strain the solution into a tall glass of ice, top with the sparkling cider, and garnish with some orange peels. Sparkling cider is not the only bubbly apple drink to keep in mind, either. Flavored apple soda, hard seltzer, and apple kombucha also make good spirit companions for all the same reasons. Their apple flavor is lighter than that of cider, though, so go easy when adding companion flavors to be sure that the delicate apple notes will still shine through.