The vernal equinox is upon us and, in Los Angeles, that means warmer (or rather, even warmer) days, but still chilly nights. What better time for a cup of spirited cider? This version comes to us courtesy of Damian Windsor, beverage director at Warwick, who notes that the combination of flavors has “an East coast, old Americana feel to it with the apple brandy, cranberry, and apple juice.”

When Windsor set out to make this cozy sipper, he had two challenges – how to keep the apple juice-based drink from turning brown and how to balance the citrus. Cranberry juice was the answer in both cases. The acid in the cranberries stopped down the oxidation of the fresh apple juice he uses (which tends to turn brown) and also added the tartness he wanted without being too citrusy.
To add a touch of bitterness, Windsor incorporated the French amaro Bigallet Viriana China China, which uses sweet and bitter orange peels and other proprietary herbs. Then, to play up on the apple juice, he chose Lairds Old Apple Brandy, noting that “the extra age and standard alcohol content of the 7 1/2 year was a great base to build on.”

The result? A cider riff that balances sweet, sour and bitter for a warming, post-winter warmer. (As if we ever had a winter.)

Warwick Cider
From: Damian Windsor of Warwick
Makes: 1 drink

1 ½ ounces Laird's Old Apple Brandy
½ ounce Bigallet Viriana China China
2 ounces fresh apple juice
2 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce hibiscus-vanilla grenadine (recipe below)

1. Heat the juices and the grenadine in a small sauce pan over low heat. Meanwhile, warm a heat-resistant glass with warm water.

2. Add the warm juice mixture to the glass, top with apple brandy and stir gently to combine.

3. Garnish with a lemon wheel or  an orange peel, and serve.

Hibiscus-vanilla grenadine:
2 cups sugar
3 cups Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice
2 ounces pomegranate molasses 
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers

1. Add liquid ingredients to to a saucepan. Warm and stir in sugar Simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Take off heat.  Add vanilla and hibiscus.

3. Cool and bottle for use.

Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book “Gin: A Global History.” Her book “12 Bottle Bar”, co-written with David Solmonson, is due out at the end of summer 2014. Email her at Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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