Why should apple-flavored cocktails be reserved for the autumn months? If you ask us, these sweet beverages taste just as nice when enjoyed in February, sitting in front of a fireplace with a good book or good friends. Our apple drink of choice? The Winter Crisp from Michael Belasco, the head bartender of popular N.Y.C. bar Grey Lady. “My inspiration for this drink came from my home back in California," Belasco tells InStyle. "Growing up, apple pie was a special treat for me and my siblings, and we also had pear trees in our backyard. I wanted to capture the flavors of my childhood." Try the recipe, which has amaro and dram for added spice and texture, below.
1½ oz Woodford Reserve bourbon ($27; internetwines.com)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz cinnamon infused applejack brandy
1/2 oz Averna Amaro ($24; wineanthology.com)
1/4 oz maple solution
1/8 oz St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram ($28; winewisegreenwich.com)
2 dash angostura bitters
1 oz Rekorderlig Pear Cider ($5; wineanthology.com)
For the Cinnamon-infused Applejack Brandy
Applejack brandy ($20; b-21.com)
4-5 cinnamon sticks
For the Maple Solution
Thin apple slice
1. To make the cinnamon infused applejack brandy, combine 4 to 5 cinnamon sticks per bottle of the spirit and allow to rest for 24 hours. For a stronger cinnamon flavor, leave in past 24 hours, but note the flavor will become more bitter as well. For a little extra apple flavor, simply core and slice 1 apple per bottle and allow it to rest with the cinnamon.
2. To make the maple solution, in a pan, add equal parts maple syrup to water over medium heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Strain into a container and let it sit in an ice bath for 15 minutes.
3. To build the cocktail, add ingredients into a shaker, minus the bitters and cider. Shake for 8 to 12 seconds (depending on ice and strength of your shake) and then fine strain into Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with pear cider. Dash the bitters and ground nutmeg on top, then add a sprig of fresh mint and a thin apple slice for garnish. Serve and enjoy.