Let’s enjoy a cozy drink during these chilly fall and winter months with this gingered bourbon-apple cider cocktail! With those warming spices and fizzy ginger ale topping, this apple cider cocktail is one you’ll want to sip by the fire all season long, and it always puts everyone in good spirits. Plus, you won’t find an easier or quicker cocktail to mix.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Full of fall flavors: With the rich bourbon, cozy apple spice and cinnamon-brown sugar rim, every sip tastes like fall in a cocktail glass. When you need a festive sipper, look no further than this apple cider-bourbon cocktail. It’s truly the perfect signature fall drink.
No advanced bartending skills required: New to home bartending? No problem here. Anyone can whip up this easy fall cocktail with a few simple ingredients in just minutes.
Easily make a large batch for a party: While you can certainly mix a couple cocktails at a time, you can also make a big pitcher to keep your hosting duties easy and breezy.
Bourbon: Thanks to its majority corn makeup and traditional oak barrel aging, bourbon features rich vanilla and caramel notes that make it perfect with apple cider. Bourbon is the ultimate warming spirit for this cold season.
Spiced apple cider: We want to use real apple cider with added mulling spice. Feel free to pick up your favorite store-bought apple cider or use your own homemade apple cider. There’s nothing like filling your home with wafts of simmering apple cider. Of course, fresh apple cider from a local orchard is also perfect.
Ginger ale: You’ll love how a splash of ginger ale gives this fall drink a sparkling finish and a touch of elegance to a simple cocktail.
Orange: We use the orange to make a twist to add a zesty pop to our drink.
Step 1: Let’s begin by preparing our cinnamon-sugar rim by pouring water onto one small plate and stirring together ground cinnamon and brown sugar on a separate plate. We dip the rim of the glass in the water to moisten and then swirl it in the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture (photo 1). And just like that, we have our garnished rim.
Step 2: We’re ready to start on our whiskey drink by adding the apple cider, bourbon and a handful of ice cubes to a cocktail shaker (photo 2).
Step 3: Now we put on the top and shake the drink well (photo 3).
Step 4: With our cocktail nice and chilled, we strain the drink into the garnished glass (photo 4) and top with ginger ale (photo 5).
Step 5: For the perfect finishing touch, we cut off the bottom of the orange to give it a stable base, and then we use a paring knife to cut a piece of peel down the length of the orange (photo 6). We take the peel and twist it over the drink to catch that zesty orange oil and drop it into our drink (photo 7). If you’d like, you can also garnish with a cinnamon stick and some fresh apple slices.
And there you have it — the perfect drink for any fall gathering. Sip and enjoy all those cozy fall feelings.
I do not recommend swapping the two as they’re different products. Apple cider commonly features mulling spices while apple juice is just that. The two also have other differences — apple cider is unfiltered for a richer apple flavor — but it’s the lack of spice that really makes the biggest taste difference here.
If you do substitute apple juice for apple cider, I recommend planning ahead and simmering the apple juice in a small saucepan with some spices, such as cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and allspice, to get that same cozy flavor profile. After simmering, allow the mixture to cool before shaking.
You can easily batch this recipe by stirring together the apple cider and bourbon in a pitcher and then pouring in the ginger ale right before serving. You don’t want to add the ginger ale too far in advance, or you’ll lose those delightful bubbles. I included the proportions for a pitcher in the notes section of the full recipe card.
Absolutely, you can easily transform this apple cider cocktail into a mocktail. Simply leave out the bourbon and serve the apple cider over ice with a splash of ginger ale and orange twist.
Substitute bourbon for another spirit. Not a big bourbon drinker? Don’t worry. A dark rum works beautifully here.
Add a sweetener. While I find the sweetness of the cider and ginger ale are plenty, you can certainly include a touch more if you have a sweet tooth. Maple syrup works well with the apple cider, or you can add more spice with my favorite ginger simple syrup. If you do use more sweetener, I would start with no more than ½ ounce first, taste and add additional syrup if needed.
Drop in a few dashes of your favorite cocktail bitters. Classic angostura bitters always work nicely, or you could use orange bitters for more zest or ginger or clove bitters for more spice.
Swap ginger ale for ginger beer. Ginger ale gives a sweeter finish while ginger beer adds more spice. Club soda also gives you bubbles, but you'll miss out on the extra spice, so I recommend going with one of the gingered options.
Give it a tart kick. If you want to add a little zip, some fresh squeezed lemon juice or a splash of orange juice work nicely.
Shake the apple cider before measuring and mixing: The spices will settle on the bottom, so you want to give it a good shake first.
Double check to ensure you picked up a spiced apple cider: Most apple ciders I see in my area feature added mulling spices, but some apple ciders are unspiced. We definitely want those warm spices, and this bourbon-apple cider cocktail recipe was specifically tested with that type of cider.
Use a mid-range, good bourbon whiskey: We don’t need to use the most expensive bourbon — save that for sipping on its own. But we also don’t want anything too cheap and harsh. I’m partial to Maker’s Mark and Buffalo Trace. Here’s a great resource if you need recommendations for the best bourbon for cocktails.
This sparkling apple cider-bourbon cocktail calls for a perfect fall meal, and I have some delicious options for you: this apple cider pot roast or braised apple cider short ribs. Besides the obvious matching apple flavors, the bold bourbon is wonderful with those rich meats. My apple-stuffed chicken thighs are also a nice option.
For the ultimate fall drink, I hope you make this gingered bourbon-apple cider cocktail recipe at your next party. One sip and you'll surely feel those comforting fall vibes for this festive time of year.
Sip on More Fall Cocktails
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Gingered Bourbon-Apple Cider Cocktail
- Paring knife
- Cocktail shaker
- Small measuring cup
- Water optional, for garnish
- ½ tablespoon cinnamon optional, for garnish
- ½ tablespoon brown sugar optional for garnish
- ½ cup spiced apple cider homemade or store-bought
- 2 ounces bourbon
- Splash of chilled ginger ale
- 1 orange
- Apple slice and cinnamon stick optional, for garnish
- For a garnished rim, pour water onto a small plate. On a separate small plate, mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Dip the rim of the serving glass in the water to moisten and then swirl it in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set aside.
- In a cocktail shaker, add the apple cider, bourbon and a handful of ice.
- Put on the top and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.
- Fill the serving glass with ice and strain in the chilled apple cider and bourbon. Pour a splash of ginger ale on top and gently stir.
- Using a paring knife, cut off the bottom of the orange and use that as the base. Carefully cut off a piece of peel by moving the knife away from yourself in a downward direction. Try to cut shallowly to minimize the amount of white pith.
- Twist the orange peel over your drink to release the oils and drop in the glass with an apple slice if desired. Enjoy!
- Shake the apple cider before measuring and mixing. The spices will settle on the bottom, so you want to give it a good shake first.
- Make sure you use spiced apple cider. We want those mulling spices.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.