These apple cider drinks celebrate fall’s arrival – Lifotravel

Once upon a time, apple cider was much more than an aromatic harbinger of sweater weather and decorative gourds. In fact, it used to be damn near close to being the most important liquid in the United States of America! Colonial America was awash in apple orchards, as the soil was fertile and the water full of strange, feisty bacteria that could cause all sorts of fun side effects, like dysentery and death.

Fresh pressed apple cider, on the other hand, was full of non-poisonous sugar water that just so happened to taste great, and was pretty dang versatile as well. Straight out of the cider press, it was a refreshing nonalcoholic beverage that provided sustenance and chill autumn vibes. (Vibes are always important, no matter the century.)

Get the recipe: Hot Buttered Cider

Casked up, it would gradually ferment into a hard cider, which provided microbe-free hydration and gave colonists just enough of a buzz to forget their lives revolved around endless toiling and trying not to die. Fermented even further it became Applejack, a distinctly American brandy that was considered so valuable, it was used as currency. When you lack a proper country with a centralized financial system and face an endless barrage of harsh, brutal winters, barrels of booze are an excellent alternative to cold, hard cash, even if, as reported by Brian D. Hoefling in “Distilled Knowledge,” it caused the occasional bout of blindness.

As time went on, apple cider gradually found itself unraveled from the fabric of American society. Amber waves of grain became an ocean of beer, thanks to a steady influx of German immigrants. Kentucky bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and Caribbean rum spent the 19th century muscling applejack out of its star status in the spirits world, and come the 20th, imports of gin, vodka and tequila all but finished the job, according to “Alcohol in Popular Culture,” an encyclopedia on spirits. Nonalcoholic cider found itself filtered and pasteurized into juice, which is smoother, sweeter and — most importantly — shelf-stable, thus extending our enjoyment of liquid apples well past the autumn harvest.

Get the recipe: Apple Cider Milk Tea

Though cider might have been pushed to the periphery by the 20th century, it never went away. Apple spirits went niche, and hard cider staged enough of a comeback to make its way back onto most bar menus. Fresh apple cider, for the most part, found itself at a disadvantage as a strictly seasonal drink that was only available in autumn. But then, by the good graces of the harvest gods, cider’s fortunes changed as America entered the 21st century, and the entire concept of fall became “a whole thing.”

Fresh pressed apple cider’s season is unfairly short, which is why it’s perfectly fine to make a big fuss about it when fall finally comes around. If anyone mocks you for “being basic” or “making fall your entire personality,” do not feel shame or sorrow — instead, feel pity for those who refuse to lose themselves wholeheartedly in simple joys.

How sad it must be to never know the shiver of ecstasy that arrives on September’s first crisp breeze! To be nonplussed by nature’s technicolor displays; incapable of experiencing cute, lightweight jackets on a deep, spiritual level. When apple cider finally comes back into your life, love it as hard as you can, for life is short and time is fleeting.

Get the recipe: Apple Cider Eggnog

If there’s one problem with a simple mug of steamy cider it’s that it’s too good, and when things flirt with perfection, it’s easy to forget all the other magic it might be capable of. Apple cider can (and should!) be savored hot and guzzled cold; shaken into cocktails or served a la mode. Full of potential and possibility, apple cider doesn’t need to contain alcohol to be playful, though you can most certainly add a shot of zero-proof whiskey or rum to these recipes for another layer of flavor.

I leaned into cider’s past with a rich and creamy eggnog inspired by a Colonial posset recipe that was a popular refreshment come holiday time as the waning cider season dovetailed with the revelry of early winter. To fortify you when winter truly arrives, I took the hot mulled cider we already know and love and added a fat pat of butter, because this is an American drink, and that’s the American way. And to embrace during any season, (and at my children’s request) there’s apple cider milk tea which is delicious hot or cold, even if you don’t want to bother with boba.

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