ginger tea kick lately. Late at night, craving something warm, but still a little bracing, I've been slicing up chunks of the spicy root and steeping them in hot water. (I've even started eating the delicious, softened pieces once the tea's done.) Knowing how well ginger plays with apples, I thought I'd improvise something with a little more substance - and a some alcohol too. I though I'd try making a Hot Apple Toddy with fresh ginger root. A cousin of that perennial cold season favorite, the Hot Toddy (whiskey, tea or hot water, lemon, honey), the Hot Apple Toddy's a deliciously apple-y fall classic, a simple blend of dark spirits, hot apple cider, and spice. Ordinarily, I'd use bourbon for a recipe like this, but I'd recently picked up some blended applejack, an old-timey American liquor made with an apple brandy base (think of an apple-flavored whiskey) and it seemed like a perfect fit. I chopped up some ginger and added it to the fresh apple cider, along with a cinnamon stick, and warmed the mixture in a saucepan on the stove. (If I'd had any whole cloves on hand, I would have added them too.) After letting things simmer a bit, I poured everything into a mug, added the liquor, plus a little honey and lemon for extra depth. And yes, after my drink was done, those ginger chunks tasted especially good.
Hot Apple-Ginger Toddy makes one drink a cup or so of apple cider 1 to 2 ounces of dark liquor (I used applejack, but bourbon or dark rum would work well too) a drizzle of honey a squeeze of lemon peeled fresh gingerroot, coarsely chopped (I used a thumb-sized piece) mulling spices (cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, nutmeg - whatever you have on hand) Optional garnishes: cinnamon stick stirrer, lemon slice, apple slice, ginger slice Add the ginger and mulling spices to the cider and simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat for at least 5 minutes (or a full 15 or more if you want full flavor). Drizzle some honey into a mug and add the liquor, hot cider, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir. What are you drinking to keep warm this fall? Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry. Related: Recipe Review: Hot Rum Cow (Images: Nora Maynard)