fall comfort

[by john]

i associate some great smells with fall. root vegetables roasting in the oven, dead leaves, whiskey...

this autumn, i finally got to avail myself of a new england taste/smell tradition: apple cider donuts. warm, sugary, cinnamony, crispy outsides covering cakey, slightly appley comfort inside. i mean, wow. kevin, mike and i trekked to cider hill farm for some of those ambrosial delicacies, and i happened to pick up four gallons of raw apple cider as well.

i've already started a few batches of cider fermenting (another post if i achieve any modicum of success), but i still found myself left with a lot of the raw stuff. so i made two kinds of cider syrup - one i simmered with cinnamon sticks and sugar until it reduced by half, and one that i just shook cold with sugar until it all dissolved.

there're some foodie camps out there who claim that heating destroys the good, natural flavors in the cider. well, they're wrong. the heated syrup is something amazing. the apple flavors have intensified and rounded out, and come delayed after the initial sweetness.

the syrup worked great in an old fashioned. but to amp up the fall-itude, i tried a brandy old fashioned:
2 oz brandy (e&j xo, the cheap stuff)
1/2 oz cinnamon cider syrup
1 dash whiskey barrel bitters

build in a glass, add ice, and gently stir.
this one really nailed it. the apple and cinnamon were superb and autumnal on the nose, the brandy gave just the right edge (without sharp vapors), and the bitters recovered the complexity of a whiskey that the brandy couldn't provide.

to fall!

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