An Apple Pie Old Fashioned may not be a canonical drink, but it’s not cocktail heresy, either. The traditional Old Fashioned recipe is beautifully suited to all sorts of variations.
“The Old Fashioned is basically a glass of booze that’s been sweetened with sugar and seasoned with bitters,” write Alex Day, Nick Fauchald, and David Kaplan in their book Cocktail Codex. “Once you understand the Old Fashioned’s basic blueprint, it’s easy to start manipulating it.”
The classic recipe contains two ounces of whiskey or bourbon, plus a teaspoon of sugar that’s been muddled into a teaspoon of water with dashes of Angostura bitters. It’s usually served over one, oversized ice cube and garnished with an orange peel.
From there, possibilities abound. Some riffs substitute rum or tequila for the base spirit, while others use infused syrups instead of sugar to introduce citrus, spice, and other flavors. You can make an Old Fashioned with honey, a Czech herbal digestif, or almost any other ingredient that suits your fancy.
To make an Apple Pie Old Fashioned, swap a portion of the bourbon for apple brandy, a broad category of spirits made from fermented and distilled apples. Types of apple brandy include Calvados, which hails from Normandy, France and is barrel-aged for two or three years before release; eau-de-vie de pomme, which is made worldwide and tends to be clear and unaged; and applejack, an American iteration that dates to the late 1700s and can be made with a range of distillation methods and aging requirements. Any type of apple brandy will work here, so choose the one you like best.
As with the original, this cocktail is ripe for customization. Try Tennessee whiskey or rye in place of the bourbon, or amplify the apple notes by adjusting your ratio of whiskey to apple brandy or applejack. Any change will alter the balance of your drink, though, so be sure to tweak the amount of sugar you use accordingly.
It’s easy to batch this recipe for a crowd, too. Simply multiply each ingredient by the number of people you plan to serve and prepare through the second step, taking care to fully dissolve the sugar. Store the mix in the refrigerator without ice and, when you’re ready to serve, pour into individual rocks glasses. The apple garnish is optional but unapologetically festive.