Every Autumn when the air begins to get crisp, I get a craving for apple cider, apple fritters and apple pie. This could have something to do with the place I grew up, a New England town that celebrates Fall every year with an annual Apple Harvest Festival. This punch was easy to make and definitely hit the spot.
Bourbon is a perfect compliment to sweet apple cider, with its dark amber color and notes of cinnamon, caramel and spice. To brighten all of these warm flavors, I made a simple syrup with lots of fresh ginger, and added plenty of lemon juice. This drink is sweet, spicy, and robust, and will make your guests feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Apple Cider Punch with Ginger and Bourbon
1 gallon fresh apple cider (no sugar added, not from concentrate)
4 cups bourbon, such as Bulleit
juice of 4 lemons
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 cans ginger ale or ginger beer
1 honey crisp or lady gala apple, thinly sliced, for garnish
For the Ginger Syrup
4 oz fresh ginger, unpeeled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1. Make the ginger syrup. Slice the ginger root crosswise into thin rounds, then chop into small chunks. In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the chopped ginger with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely, then strain through a fine mesh strainer.
2. In a large pitcher or cistern, combine the cider, bourbon, lemon juice, ginger syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Stir to combine and chill. Just before serving, add the ginger ale for some sparkle. Garnish your glasses with a slice of apple and serve. This drink is also delicious over ice, so keep a bucket of ice near-by for your guests.