Now that fall is officially here, I felt the need to celebrate with dishes that get me in the mood. Obviously, the perfect thing to both put you in the mood and fight the cold is a nice libation. For me, it has to be my hard cider. This isn’t just any festive drink; this is the type of drink that is so smooth and flavorful that you don’t realize there is a ton of alcohol in it. Then, the next thing you know, you’re waking up with your top off—but I digress. So, let’s get started with this autumnal bombshell, shall we?
For the hard cider:
½ gallon of apple cider (I like to go with local orchard cider)
1 cup Yukon Jack Wicked Hot Cinnamon Whiskey (this really packs a bunch, but disguises all traces of whiskey)
1 cup apple schnapps
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Fuji apple cut into chunks
1 Granny Smith apple cut into chunks
Combine all of these ingredients into a pitcher, give it a good stir and then refrigerate to allow it to chill and for the flavors to meld. In the meantime, put some of your favorite glassware into the freezer for a perfectly chilled vessel when the cocktail is ready. Honestly, I’ve made this drink several times and I find that the longer it has time to blend together in the refrigerator the better (but no longer than 24 hours). In an attempt to echo that of the apple flavor, I also like to make a sexy little hors d’oeuvres to go with this most amazing cocktail.
For this you are going to need the following:
1 Granny Smith apple
Juice of 1 lemon
1 wedge of manchego cheese
1 container of membrillo (a.k.a. quince paste—a popular Spanish treat)
1 container of marcona almonds
Start by cutting the apple in four large chunks off of its core and then cut into ¼ inch wedges. From there, toss into a bowl with the lemon juice so they don’t brown. Next, cut the rind off of the manchego and cut into long ¼ inch triangles. Then, cut the membrillo into small triangles. Now, assemble the hors d’oeuvres by placing the apple slice on a platter, put a slice of manchego on top, then a piece of membrillo and finish it with a marcona almond. This, to me, is sex on a plate. It has amazing flavor profiles and serves as the perfect accompaniment to this spicy drink. Moreover, it’s just what I needed to put me in the mood of fall in the windy city of Chicago. I hope that you make these dishes and find just as much pleasure in them as I do.