Cocktails: Apple Season in a Glass

Summer is still hanging on with a vengeance, sunny hot days melting into cool September nights. Despite the heat, autumn is around the corner, and apple season is already here. Just head up to North Georgia and the apple trees are bountiful with fruit. In honor of cooler days to come and the heavenly aroma of apple pies inundating the air in lucky kitchens, we bring you a simple cocktail recipe sure to elicit mental visions of such glory: Apple Season in a Glass.

Apple Season in a Glass

The key ingredient here is Travis Hasse’s Apple Pie liqueur. An inexpensive (though still hard to find in the South) bottle of liqueur built on apples, spices and neutral grain spirits. On its own, it’s sweet, sticky, and almost impossibly true to the aroma and flavor of apple pie. It’s like taking a pie in the face, and it begs for balance. A nice rye (or bourbon, to each his own) will do just the trick. We like Russell’s Reserve Rye (6 year old) as a nice cocktail mixer. It brings a nice toastiness and slight bitterness to the table. A dash of Peychaud’s bitters adds a touch of aromatic complexity, again balancing out the sweetness of the liqueur. There are certainly more complex and challenging recipes that will get you a similar taste of apple season, but this is a nice and easy way to help your mind escape the lingering summer heat and swing into Fall.

Ingredients:
1.5 oz rye whiskey
1 oz Travis Hasse’s Apple Pie Liqueur
Peychaud’s bitters to taste

Preparation:
Shake and strain into an old-fashioned glass half-filled with broken ice.

Notes:
Adding cinnamon or nutmeg will be overkill on top of the liqueur, though a cinnamon stick would be a nice visual touch.

In Praise of Drinking Locally

Eat Drink Local

When we travel to distant cities, foreign countries, faraway places, the compulsion to “do what the locals do” is strong. When we see Anthony Bourdain on TV sipping the local drink of choice while digging into the culinary history of a certain place, we understand that to truly experience that place, one must take some small part in the local eating and drinking scene. If I’m in Portland, you better believe I’m drinking Stumptown coffee, trying local microbrews, and scanning the wine list for Oregon pinot noir and pinot gris. It’s all about experiencing what is unique to that place, what is shaped by and in turn shapes that place.

Back home in the South, here in Atlanta, Georgia, we have a burgeoning “eat local” movement fueled by weekly farmers markets, by Whole Foods trumpeting which produce is grown in the region, by so many restaurants who are now subscribing to a Southern “farm to table” philosophy. Eat local. Support local growers and food artisans. Keep Southern food traditions alive (and evolving). For the good of the local economy and environment, for the good of the food itself. Amen.

And, now, trailing in the wake of the “eat local” movement, the “drink local” notion is also taking hold. Not that it hasn’t existed in some form for many years – we love our locally brewed beer, our Sweetwater, our Terrapin. Octane in Atlanta even offers a discount on the Georgia-brewed beers on its small but excellent beer list on Saturday nights. The number of coffee houses that feature locally roasted beans has blossomed. It feels good to know your cup was crafted in the hands of Southern roasters rather than in some far-off mega-corporate warehouse. This, of course, assumes that the local product is good and worthy of our choice, worthy of spending our local dollars on. Does it deliver the joy and satisfaction that an “imported” alternative could? That’s the cost of entry – if our local brewers/ roasters/ growers don’t produce a great beer, roast a mean bean, or grow a great tomato for that matter, they are not going to win a lot of support from the “eat/drink local” crowd.

Georgia and the South in general is definitely there on the beer front, definitely there on the coffee front. Georgia wine is well on its way, and craft distilleries are starting to pop up around the state as well, making vodka, gin and other spirits. So after you’re done picking out some local okra at the farmstand or choosing a selection of Southern cheeses, stop and think about picking up a six pack of good Georgia beer, a bottle of good Georgia wine, or some coffee beans that are at least roasted here in the South that will make for a great cup of coffee. It won’t always be the best choice, but now, often enough, it’s at least a very good choice, a choice worth making.

Georgia Peaches
Photo: Georgia Peaches
Top Photo, clockwise from top left: Piedmont Park Green Market. Terrapin Rye Pale Ale from Athens, GA. Westside Creamery Truck at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Montaluce Viognier from North Georgia. Sweet Auburn Curb Market in Atlanta, GA.