A Sweet, Smokey Autumn Cocktail


Today, we’re all together in Montgomery, Alabama helping Granny move for the second time in about as many years.

We knew this day was coming, but I’m not sure we were prepared for what it meant. After today, our family won’t have much reason to visit Panama City, Florida. And waving goodbye to this place so rich with memory has been harder than we expected. It’s where Mom grew up, where Dad proposed, where Maggy and I enjoyed dozens of blissful summers, where we have all returned over the years to visit Granny and Papa at Christmas, Easter, and just because.

But Papa’s gone now, and Granny has been living alone. Though she has many dedicated friends and family who visit regularly, it’s just too many hours of solitude. In Montgomery, she’ll live with one of her nieces with Granny’s older sister and another niece right down the road. And I’m only two hours away in Atlanta. In Alabama, Granny will again have someone with whom she can talk, watch TV, share meals, go for walks, get her hair done, and go shopping. I, for one, am glad she won’t be sitting in a chair alone for hours at a time.

So it’s a bittersweet kind of day. And after hours of unpacking, lugging furniture, and reminiscing, we think we’re going to need a drink. This one, to be precise.

It’s bracing but refreshing–a little sweet, a little smokey, a little spicy. We’re looking forward to sipping on this wonderful expression of autumn in a glass. And perhaps tonight we’ll raise our glass to Panama City. To its dirt roads, its scratchy St. Augustine grass, its briny oysters, its white sand beaches, and all the moments we spent there that shaped our lives.


A Sweet, Smokey Autumn Cocktail

The apple liqueur you use is important. We love Berentzen’s Apple Liqueur – it’s smooth, fresh, and tastes wonderfully like apples. It should be available in most major liquor stores, and you can buy it online. Do NOT use neon green apple schnapps!

Makes 1 drink.

1 oz. apple cider
3/4 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. scotch (cheap stuff is fine)
1/2 oz. apple liqueur
1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. cranberry-ginger simple syrup, see recipe below
2 heavy dashes of angostura bitters

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add 3 to 4 ice cubes and shake vigorously. Serve over ice in rocks glass.

Cranberry-Ginger Simple Syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 inches fresh ginger, roughly chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until it becomes a syrup. Strain, transfer to a glass jar, and refrigerate.

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  1. says

    Can totally relate to your story, only the geography is different. Saying goodbye to a place like that is so bittersweet.

    The drink sounds great but I’m most intrigued by the cranberry ginger syrup. Any other ideas what you could use that for?

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