Apples and honey are traditional food symbols of Rosh Hashanah in the Ashkenazic Jewish tradition. The apples are a celebration of the recent harvest, and the honey is a symbol of hope for a sweet new year; the two are enjoyed together as an acknowledgement of the full cycle of the year.
This recipe is based on a cocktail that John Adler, Blue Apron’s head chef, created with the former head bartender during his time at Franny’s. One day, John came to work with two cases of crab apples. One case went to the kitchen, the second went to the bar. The bartender thought for a second and said “let’s bury them in bourbon!”
Apple bourbon is incredibly versatile. It’s delicious in this recipe, and also works well for a seasonal twist on a manhattan (in place of rye), added to a hot toddy, on the rocks, or mixed with lemon and ginger for a fun play on a Gold Rush. If you can’t find crab apples, try making yours with Granny Smith apples. If you love the sound of the cocktail, but don’t have the patience to infuse your own bourbon, try decreasing the bourbon by .5 oz, and adding in 1 oz apple cider. Chef John’s take incorporates cardamom, which pairs beautifully with the spice of the bourbon and the sweetness of the apples.
For the Apple Bourbon
- 2 ½ pounds crab apples (or Granny Smith apples), washed and cut into 6 wedges
- 1 gala or Honeycrisp apples, washed and thinly sliced
- 2 Cups bourbon
- 2 lemons, washed and peeled (peels reserved)
Combine the apples, bourbon and lemon peels in a tightly lidded jar. Store upside down (to prevent oxidation) for five days. Strain, discarding apples and lemon zest, and store in the fridge.
For the Honey Cardamom Syrup
- ½ Cup honey
- ½ Cup water
- 3 fresh cardamom pods
Combine the ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat you want it to come up slowly to maximize the time the cardamom infuses. Strain out the cardamom pods, cool and store in the fridge.
For the Cocktail
- 5 ounces Apple Bourbon
- 1 ounce bitter liqueur (Meletti Amaro, Montenegro Amaro, Campari)
- 1 teaspoon honey-cardamom syrup
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 cocktail glasses (chilled in fridge)
- 2 thin slices of gala apple
Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 of the way with ice. Add the bourbon, bitters, honey-cardamom syrup and lemon juice. Stir for 20 seconds and then strain into the chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish the rim of the glass with the apple wedges and toast to a sweet and delicious new year!