Great for fall get-togethers, this bourbon apple cider cocktail features a nice balance of flavors and makes for some easy sipping. Orange peel and cinnamon tie together the apple cider and ginger beer flavors beautifully in this simple-to-make mixed drink.
I don’t have a large liquor cabinet by any means. In fact, ‘liquor cabinet’ is a bit of a misnomer as all of my liquor and shelf-stable mixers are housed in the small shelves above my over-the-range microwave. It works for now!
Because of this efficiency there are some ingredients that crop up over and over in the mixed drinks I make, like ginger beer and orange liqueur, as well as apple cider and cranberry juice in the fridge. It’s SO easy to craft different drinks just by changing up the type of liquor and a few support ingredients.
After buying my first carton of apple cider this season, I challenged myself to come up with additional cocktails to make with it beyond a cranberry apple margarita (a reader favorite!) and an apple cider mule. This bourbon apple cider cocktail ties in that ginger beer and orange liqueur for an easy, not-too-sweet cocktail brimming with cozy fall flavor.
- Apple cider: Apple cider differs from apple juice in that it’s unfiltered, so it contains apple pulp and other particles that give it that hazy characteristic. Regular apple cider is used here, not sparkling.
- Bourbon: You don’t need anything fancy here. We like Wild Turkey 101 as an all-purpose bourbon. It’s versatile for drinking straight or for using in mixed drinks, and it’s a good value in the mid-$20s range.
- Ginger beer: Carbonated with a stronger bite than ginger ale, ginger beer is one of my favorite cocktail additions. It’s non-alcoholic and can be found in the cocktail mixers aisle, or sometimes with the soft drinks. Goslings is a common brand you’re likely to find, but I also really like Cock’n Bull (I haven’t been able to find it lately). Both regular and diet varieties are fine to use.
- Orange liqueur: Something orange acts as a great complement to tie together the flavors of apple cider, ginger beer, and bourbon, and elevates this drink in total to be a little fancier tasting. Orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier, also adds a nice touch of sweetness.
- Bitters: Angostura bitters, either the classic aromatic variety OR the orange bitters work nicely here! One dash is called for, which is the equivalent of about 7-8 drops.
How to Make This Drink
- Add ice to a cocktail shaker and pour in the apple cider, bourbon, orange liqueur, and bitters. Shake well.
- Strain and pour into a glass over ice.
- Pour in the ginger beer. Do not add this to the cocktail shaker as the carbonation will build up pressure, causing the lid to fly off and liquid to go everywhere. Stir well.
- Twist an orange peel over the drink to express the oil, then place in the cocktail for garnish. Optional: grate a cinnamon stick over top, too.
Tips and Tricks
- Twisting an orange peel is done by folding a section of rind horizontally (outer peel side out) and pressing it firmly but not too hard as to break it. This expresses the orange oils, which bring not only extra flavor but a citrus-y scent that adds to the cocktail sipping experience. Use as large (or as small) of a piece as you like.
- Grating a cinnamon stick is an optional garnish that adds a warm and cozy flavor and amplifies the “fall-ness” of this apple cider cocktail.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail
- 3 ounces apple cider
- 2 ounces bourbon
- ¼ ounce orange liqueur such as Cointreau
- 1 dash Angostura bitters original aromatic or orange (around 7-8 drops)
- 2 ounces ginger beer
- Orange peel approximately a 2-inch section
- Cinnamon stick or pinch of ground cinnamon
- Add ice to a cocktail shaker and pour in the apple cider, bourbon, orange liqueur, and dash of bitters. Securely place on the lid and shake well.
- Strain/pour the liquid into a glass over ice. Pour in the ginger beer and stir.
- Slice off about a two-inch section of orange peel, then gently fold it in half horizontally with the exterior peel side on the outside. Hold it over the drink and press with enough pressure to express the orange oils but not break the peel completely in half. Add the orange peel to the cocktail as garnish.
- Optional: Grate a cinnamon stick (or add a tiny pinch of ground cinnamon) over top of the cocktail for serving.
- Not that a cocktail like this requires a ton of instruction, but just note that the ginger beer is the one ingredient that doesn’t go into the cocktail shaker. It’s carbonated and the pressure that would (very quickly) build up in the shaker would knock the top off it off and create a big mess to be cleaned up.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.