Something about October whispers of comforting plaids and homey parties. For this installment of Dinner and a Drink, cognac and apple cider are shaken into an ice-cold—but warming—cocktail appropriately named The Flannel. And because nothing says cool-weather ease like chips and dip, a sophisticated roasted-shallot variation of that perfectly trashy cocktail party standard French onion dip. Message your friends, bust out the cocktail shaker, rip open those bags of potato chips and hunker down: October comes but once a year.
*Makes one cocktail (syrup makes enough for 8 cocktails)
1 oz Cognac
.5 oz Apple cider syrup*
.25 oz Allspice dram
.25 oz Fresh orange juice
Garnish: Orange peel Glass: Old Fashioned
Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into an Old Fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel.
*Apple cider syrup:
4 cups (473 ml) Apple cider, freshly pressed
In a medium saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to one cup (about 1 hour). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
Roasted Shallot Dip
*Makes three cups
1 ½ lbs (8 to 9) Medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 4 ½ cups sliced)
3 sprigs Thyme
¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Cognac
1 cup Full-fat sour cream, room temperature
½ cup Cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Hot sauce, optional
2 Scallions, sliced on the bias
Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit. On a rimmed baking sheet, add the shallots, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast the shallot mixture, stirring frequently, until the shallots turn golden-brown and are very soft (about 25 minutes). Add the cognac and use a wooden spoon to stir, loosening any caramelized bits sticking to the pan. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Discard thyme. Coarsely chop the cooled shallots and add to a large bowl along with the sour cream, cream cheese, Worcestershire, onion powder and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with scallions and serve with chips.
Rebekah Peppler is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, food stylist and recipe developer. Her clients include The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Real Simple, Food Network and Cooking Channel. Her new book Honey was released in April 2014.