Want the perfect bourbon cocktail for fall? This Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail is light, refreshing and very flavorful. This is a delicious sipper for the cooler weather, made with apple cider, your favorite bourbon or whisky, a touch of honey-thyme simple syrup, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Apple cider is a seasonal favorite for crisp fall days. From late September through October, November, and December and is one of my favorite fall ingredients. I use it in this Spiced Cider Rum Sauce to top ice cream and pies, this warm Spiked Apple Cider for chilly nights, and this virgin Spiced Apple Cider Tea when I’m craving the flavor without the booze.
This bourbon apple cider cocktail makes a lovely drink for dinner parties and holiday get-togethers. It’s a refreshing beverage that makes a perfect Thanksgiving cocktail, straddling the line between a bourbon sour and the traditional fall apple flavors.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works:
- There are no fancy ingredients in this apple cider cocktail with bourbon, and it’s ready to drink in minutes.
- You can make it by the glass or pitcher for a crowd.
- It’s easily customizable.
- It’s got a smoky cocktail flavor that’s not overly sweet or cloying.
- You can use any brand of bourbon or whisky that you have on hand.
- This bourbon cocktail is made for fall.
- Apple Cider – You can use filtered or unfiltered apple cider in this recipe.
- Bourbon – I used Maker’s Mark, but you can use anything from Jim Beam to Knob Creek, so long as you enjoy the flavors.
- Honey Thyme Simple Syrup – combines honey, water and fresh thyme. The herbs infuse gently into the syrup and add a hint of freshness, that’s almost mentholated. (recipe follows).
- Fresh Lemon Juice – Don’t use the squeeze bottle of lemon, fresh squeezed makes a big difference.
The only advance prep for this apple cider and bourbon cocktail is making the flavored simple syrup, but it’s swift and easy to do, taking about 5 minutes of hands-on time.
Making the simple syrup:
- Assemble the honey thyme simple syrup by heating equal parts honey and water in a saucepan until they are well mixed.
- Add several sprigs of fresh thyme to the syrup and stir together.
- Set the syrup aside to steep the herbs.
- Remove the thyme sprigs and discard once the honey thyme simple syrup has cooled to room temperature. Store the syrup in a glass jar with a resealable lid.
How to make bourbon fall cocktails:
- Add the apple cider, bourbon, honey-thyme simple syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail glass.
- Stir to combine and fill the glass with clear ice.
- Garnish with an apple slice, lemon wedge or sprig of fresh thyme.
- Repeat as needed.
If you’re making this apple cider bourbon cocktail for a party, it’s easy to make a big batch by assembling a pitcher for guests to refill without mixing fresh drinks each time.
Follow the directions in the recipe card for a pitcher of the apple cider cocktail and keep it refrigerated until your guests arrive.
Use old-fashioned glasses filled with clear ice to serve bourbon fall cocktails.
- Substitute the honey-thyme simple syrup with plain simple syrup, agave or maple syrup.
- Substitute the thyme for fresh cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise to steep in the honey for a more Christmasy feel. Garnish with fresh cinnamon sticks.
- Substitute hard cider for apple cider in the bourbon cocktail.
- If you don’t have apple cider, substitute apple juice instead, the drink will be a little sweeter.
- Add a splash of ginger ale or ginger beer for some fizz and spicy, nose-tingling effects.
- If you prefer a shaken cider bourbon cocktail, use a cocktail shaker filled with ingredients and ice cubes. Shake until very cold and frothy, and pour over clear ice in an old-fashioned glass.
- For a little more oomph, rim the whiskey cocktail with a cinnamon sugar rim.
Apple cider and bourbon are a good combination because the alcohol mellows the sweetness of the cider, and the bracing nature of the pressed apple drink cuts the sharpness of the alcohol.
Use whichever whiskey (or bourbon) you like to drink with apple cider.
To make a vegan mixed drink with apple cider, substitute the honey simple syrup with maple syrup.
What goes with the apple cider cocktail?
This fall bourbon cocktail is crisp and light with subtle sweetness from the infused simple syrup and apple cider. It pairs well with both hot and cold snacks and appetizers. Here are some of our picks:
- Chargrilled Oysters
- Baked Bacon Cheese Chile Dip
- Southern Pimento Cheese
- Roasted Grape Goat Cheese Crostini
More fall cocktail recipes you’ll love:
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Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail
FOR HONEY THYME SIMPLE SYRUP
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup water
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
FOR EACH APPLE CIDER COCKTAIL
- 2 ounces apple cider
- 1½ ounces bourbon
- ½ ounces honey thyme simple syrup
- ½ ounce lemon juice
FOR A 64 OZ PITCHER OF BOURBON APPLE CIDER COCKTAILS:
- 3½ cups apple cider
- 2⅔ cups bourbon
- 7 ounces honey thyme simple syrup
- 7 ounces lemon juice
- apple slice
- thyme sprig
FOR THE HONEY THYME SIMPLE SYRUP
- Combine ½ cup honey and ½ cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add 8 sprigs fresh thyme springs and swirl in the pan to coat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Remove the sprigs of thyme and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
FOR EACH APPLE CIDER BOURBON COCKTAIL:
- Add 2 ounces apple cider , 1½ ounces bourbon, ½ ounces honey thyme simple syrup, ½ ounce lemon juice, into a cocktail glass and stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice and garnish with an apple slice and thyme sprig.
FOR A PITCHER OF APPLE CIDER COCKTAILS:
- In a 64-ounce pitcher, combine 3½ cups apple cider, 2⅔ cups bourbon, 7 ounces honey thyme simple syrup, 7 ounces lemon juice. Stir well, cover and refrigerate for several hours or until cold.
- To serve, fill old-fashioned glasses with clear ice and add 4½ ounces of the bourbon fall cocktail to each glass. Garnish as desired.
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