The change of seasons is upon us! The air is so clear and crisp, you can practically take a bite right out of it. Sadly, eating air is generally frowned upon (except for those breatharians. No, really), so you'll have to find a more appropriate way to have fun. I recommend apples, sweet and tart and as crisp as the breeze. And much more delicious. They also make incredible fall cocktails -- not the sickly sweet appletini from your local bar, but drinks that are as refined as they are homey, original as they are heartwarming.
Hot Apple Toddy
This one is just as delicious without the alcohol -- but if you prefer to get a little rosy-cheeked, make sure you use whiskey or organic apple brandy. In a saucepan, simmer about a cup of homemade organic apple cider. Drizzle a little honey or maple syrup into a mug or coffee glass. Add two ounces of liquor, then pour in the mulled cider. Squeeze in a little lemon juice and garnish the glass with a cinnamon stick.
Apple Cider Shandy
Here's one for the beer lover in all of us. "Shandy" is a British style of drink that combines beer and sweet flavors. To make two drinks, open one 12-ounce bottle of stout (I recommend Wolaver's Organic Oatmeal Stout). Divide the beer evenly into two frosted mugs, and top it off with about an ounce of non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider.
Bramble Bar Cocktail
The Bramble Bar in Edinburgh is one of Europe's best cocktail bars. Their eponymous cocktail is perfect for dinner parties, but don't think you can't enjoy it in the comfort of your pajamas. The recipe is simple: Two ounces of Scotch whiskey (Chivas Regal is the recommended choice), two ounces of unfiltered apple juice, the juice of one lemon and half an ounce of elderflower liqueur. Can't find elderflower? Try a fruity liqueur like blackberry or cassis. Pour the ingredients into a tall glass, add ice, and fill it to the top with mineral water. Stir and sip!
Looking for something a little more exotic? Try a bison grass vodka and apple cider cocktail.
image: Quinn Anya.