The Beverage Testing Institute awarded Strongbow the Best Tasting Common Cider about this time last year. I was fortunate enough to attend a tasting and dinner curated and prepared by oh-so-creative James Beard Foundation award-winning Chef Wylie Dufresne. Loved the lamb with barley, hibiscus-date and the Bay Leaf Ice Cream with brownie and Yuzu Fluff!
Strongbow has four cider flavors and each took home an award:
- Gold Apple: gold medal, 92 points
- Honey: gold medal, 92 points
- Red Berries: silver medal, 88 points
- Ginger: silver medal, 87 points
More American roots cocktails
Here is another cocktail with a decidedly patriotic American history. I’m serving it as part of our Thanksgiving cocktails - not only because of its antecedent or pedigree, but also because the distillery is located near our Garden State home - and maybe most important :) I was inspired to create a cocktail and garnish for my soon-to-be-published book - Finishing Touches: The Art of Garnishing the Cocktail (you can get in pre-sale!)
Food Pairing and Cocktail Composition
Serve with Quaker Rice Crisps Caramel Corn cups filled with fresh, homegrown apple butter. Add Godiva salted caramel chocolates (or other high-quality chocolates), sliced apples (rubbed with lemon to prevent yellowing), and sprinkled with cinnamon. The tasty treats echo the apple, caramel, and chocolate flavors swizzling in the drink.
Highlight the cocktail’s rustic, Americana roots. Feature the snacks on a wooden cutting board, sprinkle Cracker Jacks caramel coated popcorn and peanuts around the presentation; add apples - in various colors: red, greens - and various sizes, including those adorable Lady Apples. Some apples can be used as candle holders for an “honest” glow.
Toss in a Jacks & Balls (game) for a whimsical tablescape decor touch. Provide festive red and white straws to help spark an “honest” cocktail conversation!
While not American, this hard cider is undoubtedly delicious. And with all “honesty” our colonist ancestors had to learn their cider crafting somewhere - bringing over skills from their homelands and their ancestors.
Rekorderlig is a premium hard cider brand born and brewed in Sweden. I was fortunate to attend a few taste-testing opportunity recently. The cider is delicious served over ice with fresh fruit garnishes or mixed into cocktails, Rekorderlig is available in five flavors:
- Wild Berries
- Spiced Apple.
Another spirit with lots of history that has recently experienced a resurgence is the small batch distilleries in New York, particilarly in the Hudson Valley. In fact, the number of craft distilleries increased by more than 25 percent in just one year (from 2014 to 2015) up to nearly 80. (Thanks, Governor Cuomo!)
The distillery notes in a press release sent to me recently, “For the first time ever the Maple Cask Rye is available in 750ml bottles in addition to the well-known 375ml apothecary-style bottles. This Hudson Whiskey variant is the result of a partnership with Wood’s Syrup maple tappers who use Hudson Whiskey barrels to age their syrup then returns them to the distillery to finish off the Maple Cask Rye and impart a subtle maple sweetness into the classic whiskey. The Maple Cask Rye will have a recommended retail price of $54.99 and will join Hudson Whiskey’s signature Baby Bourbon, Manhattan Rye and New York Corn variants in larger size bottles, affirming the industry and consumer demand for Hudson Whiskey’s award-winning spirits.
“With Hudson, we set out to make great whiskey in New York again,” said Hudson Whiskey co-founder and craft distilling pioneer Ralph Erenzo. “With the investment from William Grant & Sons, we’ve been able to expand our production to support increased demand without ever cutting corners. BTW William Grant is the global brand that is genius at tapping into the crafted, hand-made spirits without losing its step as a major producer. Best of all worlds. Cheers to you.
Other Thanksgiving and fall cocktails to enjoy.
Delicious drinks made with one of my most favorite mixers: Q Drinks,
Enjoy your Thanksgiving - cheers to family, friends, good food and drink. And Finishing Touches!