Mother Nature, your recent weather shenanigans have put me in an awkward position, alcoholically speaking. When San Francisco weather turned predictably frigid at the end of October, as it has done for all of the past five years I’ve lived here, I officially went into fall and winter mode. I made an Oktoberfest-inspired potato and bratwurst salad; and I baked a gorgonzola-crusted pear tart; and I lunged head first into butternut squash season; and I embraced hearty grains and winter greens; and I even purchased some apple brandy on a particularly bone-chilling day so that I could make a nice warm beverage to enjoy in front of the fire that evening. Then the Giants won the World Series, and suddenly, we’ve reverted back to Indian summer. And actually, it’s been even warmer than early September through late October. It’s been downright hot and incredibly sweaty. Need I remind you it’s November?!? How am I supposed to use the 7-pound sugar pie pumpkin I invested in when my apartment is blazing hot without even turning on the oven or stove? And more importantly, what will become of that apple brandy, which I longed to pour into hot apple cider and other cold weather cocktail concoctions?
This is all particularly frustrating to me because I’m a planner by nature. One look at my Google calendar will show you that I plan weeks and even months – and sometimes an entire year – in advance. That look will also reveal that I am serious about organization; you’ll see I’ve got not one, but five different calendars within the Google calendar: social/travel; birthdays; professional; deadlines; and Bar Method. (Yes, Bar Method has an entire calendar to itself. And it’s fabulously pink.) I probably have a problem. But I can’t help it, and it keeps me very aware of what I’m doing, where I’m going, who I’m meeting, and when all of this is occurring. Some might call me “thoroughly organized and incredibly detail-oriented;” others might go with “crazy.”
Either way, when I buy something like apple brandy, I expect to use it. For winter drinks. Maybe even for winter cooking. But I just can’t drink brown booze when it’s 80 degrees out. And I realize this rant may be entirely moot because online weather websites seem to agree that this weekend brings a return to the cold, rainy normalcy of San Francisco. Thank goodness! Although, perhaps that means I should be enjoying this brief reprieve?
And I am taking advantage of it, as much as I can. Today, I wore sandals and summer clothes, and was happy to let my hair air dry as I walked around the city and to not need to blow dry my hair for fear of catching cold. But what really made this day was me finding a delicious way to turn this brown-liquored, wintry apple brandy into a cocktail appropriate for and reminiscent of summer.
Apple brandy is made from the distillation of hard cider, and while not to be confused with overly sweet, fruit-flavored brandies, has the same potency as brandy but retains a unique, delicious hint of apples. Combined with some fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and club soda, apple brandy does not overpower the other flavors, but rather adds a more complex, appley finish to the back end, creating the perfect summer-meets-fall citrus cocktail.
Sparkling Apple Brandy Limeade
Simple syrup or sugar muddled with lime can certainly be substituted for agave nectar, though I do love pairing the light agave flavor with lime. I highly recommend giving apple brandy a try, but an apple-flavored vodka (or vodka and a light splash of apple juice, but be sure to adjust the amount of agave/sugar accordingly) would also work for brandy-phobes.
2 oz. apple brandy
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. agave nectar (can substitute sugar)
6 oz. club soda
lime wedge for garnish
Into a highball glass filled halfway with ice cubes, pour brandy, lime juice, and agave nectar. Stir until agave nectar no longer lingers at the bottom of the glass. Top with club soda, and garnish with a lime wedge.