Apples to Apples

Fall for a cider cocktail this autumn

Two types of cider are having a moment.

The boozy fermented versions are popping up on drinks lists around the country, and the classic you'd find at cider mills is reigning supreme in Chicago as fall's go-to cocktail ingredient.

Nico Osteria bartender Matty Eggleston concocts a seasonally on-point drink called the Bella Mela ($12), which means "beautiful apple" in Italian. Fittingly, Germain-Robin apple brandy and seedling apple cider burst through with prominent apple flavor, while Atsby vermouth, citrusy orange-peel liqueur and chocolate bitters round things out with a bit more depth.

Cider goes south of the border with A10's tequila-based Highing Fly ($11). Barkeep Alex Bachman's tantalizing creation features a thick cider reduction, Reposado tequila, aromatic Calabrian chile for a hit of spice and a squeeze of citrus to keep the cocktail fresh and bright.

Craving something with bubbles? Look no further than LUSH Wine & Spirits's Them Apples ($12), an effervescent blend of Aperol, lemon juice, mezcal, bourbon, sparkling hard cider and cider simple syrup. The sparkling cider keeps it festive, but make no mistake: It'll only take one to get you buzzing.

And at Barrelhouse Flat, Lincoln Park's premier craft-cocktail bar, all eyes are on the Kiss Gamble ($13). Created by bartender Jessica Tessendorf, this boozy delight is one of several new menu items and packs a warming punch with J.K. Scrumpy's Winterruption hard cider, rum, amaro and arrack balanced with a touch of lime juice and falernum.

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then we can only hope that an apple cider cocktail a day will keep those winter blues at bay.