Signature Thanksgiving Cocktail: Bourbon Cider

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Bourbon cider is the best cocktail I have made to date. Fresh apple cider, warm spiced bourbon, and rosemary simple syrup are shaken and poured over ice making the perfect signature Thanksgiving cocktail (or for this unusually warm November here in the city). Not that I’m complaining, but I was expecting chilly winds that lead to roasted chestnuts, hot toddies and warm ciders. Bourbon cider is the perfect signature thanksgiving cocktail for a fall dinner with friends, your Thanksgiving feast, or holiday party this season.

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Bourbon cider is sweet, spiced, and refreshing with a hint of earthiness borrowed from the rosemary. When recipes are simple and call for few ingredients, you need to seek out the very best you can find to maximize deliciousness. I purchased my rosemary and fresh apple cider for my signature Thanksgiving cocktail from Migliorelli Farm at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. The cider was crisp and subtle and masked the strength of the nose on the bourbon just enough.

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Rosemary simple syrup is insanely easy to make- I microwave equal parts water and sugar with sprigs of rosemary and allow it to cool for this earthy fall cocktail. Bourbon cider has all the sweet and spice of fall with savory and aromatic rosemary balancing the apple and autumn seasonal flavors. This Thanksgiving cocktail is easy to make and perfect for a signature holiday drink! The bourbon cider can easily be made into a punch for a large crowd too.

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Signature Thanksgiving Cocktail: Bourbon Cider

Makes 1 cocktail, increase proportions as needed

  • 2 oz bourbon or rye
  • 1 oz fresh apple cider
  • ½ oz rosemary simple syrup
  • Splash club soda (or hard apple cider if you like)
  • Sprig rosemary for garnish

Make the rosemary simple syrup according to how much you would like on hand. I knew I was going to use more rosemary simple syrup the next day for my Baked Brie with Guava, so I made a larger batch than usual. For around 6-8 signature Thanksgiving cocktails pour 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in a microwave safe bowl with a large fresh sprig of rosemary. I microwave the ingredients for 30 second intervals and stirred well after each set of 30 seconds up to 1 minute and 30 seconds or until the simple syrup is no longer cloudy and is clear (if you are making a larger batch microwave at 30 second intervals until clear). I let the rosemary simple syrup cool with the rosemary sprigs in it, and once cooled I replaced them with fresh sprigs which have a brighter color and flavor.

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When the simple syrup is cool add the ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake well, for about thirty seconds, and strain over fresh ice then top with a splash of club soda (or hard apple cider if you like to emphasize the apple flavor with some effervescence. Garnish the bourbon cider cocktail with a warm rosemary sprig. I run the rosemary over a lit lighter for around 20 seconds. Heat just until the rosemary is warm and aromatic, they should not light on fire. This step is very easy and enhances the bourbon cider cocktail especially the sweet apple and earthy profile.

If you want your cocktail to be sweeter or stronger simply manipulate the proportions to your liking. Remember cooking and bartending is all about experimentation and what you like. Everyone’s palate is different so have fun with it and find out what you like best.

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*Note: If you want to make this as a pre-made punch for a crowd I would pour the entire bottle of bourbon or rye,  2 cups fresh apple cider, and 3/4-1 cup of the rosemary simple syrup. Stir together well and add a larger format bottle of hard apple cider and about 8 oz of club soda. Guests can pour over ice and you can have sprigs of rosemary ready on the side. I haven’t made this as a punch but I will closer to Thanksgiving and update on its success!!!

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Pumpkin Old Fashioned

 Instagram photo Pumpkin Old Fashioned

Bourbon and spice and everything nice, that’s what pumpkin old fashioneds are made of. I want to buy pumpkins, wreaths, and those cinnamon stick broom things that remind me of my elementary school librarian. Despite the warmer weather I am fiending for fall. Even today I was lingering in the holiday decoration section of TJ Maxx wondering longingly if I would have use for that little scarecrow wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. I was then suddenly reminded of the pumpkin spice syrup I made last year for slushies, drinks, and coffee. The realization then dawned on me- pumpkin spice syrup was made for one thing and one thing alone- a pumpkin old fashioned cocktail!!!

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Pumpkin old fashioned cocktail is packed with fall flavors and will give you all those giddy feelings in anticipation of the holiday season. Before the weather becomes too cold for my thin tropical blood I want to sit in my backyard (which I wish looked like this) sipping on a pumpkin old fashioned while watching the leaves twirl down to tiny piles on the ground. Even though I’m gushing over gourds and swooning for squash, I’ll enjoy the warmer weather this week and brace myself for a Manhattan winter.

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Pumpkin Old Fashioned

  • 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup
  • 2 oz Bourbon (I used Bulleit Rye)
  • Orange twist or cinnamon stick for garnish or star anise
  • 1 ice cube

Shake the bourbon and pumpkin spice syrup with ice until chilled. If you prefer to stir your cocktails, by all means, knock yourself out! Pour over a fresh ice cube. Garnish the bourbon pumpkin old fashioned with an orange twist or cinnamon stick. If you have cloves I like to stick them into the orange rind for extra aromatics sometimes. This drink is smooth and spiced and everything nice.

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Bourbon Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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Fall has finally arrived, and in celebration I made a bourbon pumpkin bread pudding with butterscotch bourbon glaze. Bourbon pumpkin bread pudding comes together in blissful union as Maker’s Mark takes canned pumpkin to be his happily ever after.  There is something magical about the onset of fall. It is at this point in the year where everyone begins to question how time flew by so quickly as the memory of New Year’s, spring, and summer seem so fresh and recent.

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Although those of us in Miami won’t be able to enjoy the changing seasons, pumpkin patches, and chilly air that inspires giddy anticipation for the holiday season, I will be celebrating fall in spirit with the rest of you. While you can always count on retail giants to remind you of each and every upcoming season, there is a palpable change in the air and mood. In Miami we vainly hope for chilly days below 70F where we bundle ourselves in boots, scarves, and hooded sweaters. Alas, I am but reduced to enjoying a pumpkin spice latte with blasting AC in 90 degree weather, but we can all dream right?

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The bourbon pumpkin bread pudding is doused in a wonderful butterscotch bourbon glaze that crystallizes and hugs every spiced nook and cranny. If you would like to serve this hot I would recommend a scoop of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice instead of the whipped cream, but the fresh whipped cream was equally decadent. Bourbon pumpkin bread pudding will put a smile on your face and remind you of all the goodness that is yet to come in these final months of this year. This is a keeper for Thanksgiving, so bookmark this recipe to treat your family and friends!

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Bourbon Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  •  4-5 cups diced bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of salt

 For the Glaze:

  •  ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Maker’s Mark Bourbon

 For the Whipped Cream:

  •  1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice

Preheat your oven to 350F. Dice the stale bread into evenly sized cubes and set aside. I used about half of a loaf of stale French bread and 3 stale Martin’s potato rolls (I know this is random, but it’s what I had on hand!). Like I have said before bread pudding is made of simple ingredients! Next mix all of the rest of the listed ingredients together. I mixed these together using my KitchenAid but a hand mixer or simply whisking the pumpkin custard ingredients together will also work.

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Place the diced bread into a greased Pyrex baking dish. Pour the pumpkin custard over the diced bread and gently toss the ingredients together until all the bread is saturated. Now press the soaked bread into the dish evenly. Bake the bourbon pumpkin bread pudding for 40-45 minutes or until firm and set. I allowed this to completely cool before pouring the butterscotch bourbon glaze on top.

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For the glaze I placed a ¼ cup of sugar and the tablespoon of butter in a saucepan. I allowed these to melt and brown together until wonderfully toasty and a light caramel color. This involved stirring over low to medium heat for 7-9 minutes. Next slowly add the whipping cream while constantly stirring. The butterscotch will immediately begin to bubble and change color. When fully incorporated pour in the bourbon and whisk until you no longer smell the sting of the alcohol in the air.

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Pour the butterscotch bourbon glaze on top of the entire bourbon pumpkin bread pudding and allow it to cool in the refrigerator. I personally prefer my bourbon pumpkin bread pudding cold, but this will taste amazing on the spot or heated up to serve. Prepare the whipped cream right before serving by putting 1 cup of cold whipping cream with 2 tablespoons into the KitchenAid and beating until beautiful whipped peaks form. Top the bourbon pumpkin bread pudding with fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice for garnish. Fall has arrived!

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