Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Cognac & Other Brandy Cocktails

8 Apple Brandy Cocktails to Try Right Now

They’re like autumn in a glass.

Stone Fence cocktail
Stone Fence Image: / Tim Nusog

The flavor perhaps most commonly associated with autumn is apple. The fruit is used in so many different forms: pies, crumbles, sauces and our favorite, brandy. 

A brandy is a spirit made from fermented fruit juice. Within the category, there’s an array of different styles. The most commonly known brandy is cognac, a grape brandy produced in the Cognac region of France. Brandies made from apples predominate, however, especially elsewhere in France and the U.S. 

In America, the types of brandy you’re most likely to encounter include apple brandy, applejack and blended applejack. The terms apple brandy and applejack can be used interchangeably, since they’re both produced by distilling hard apple cider. Blended applejack is generally mixed with a neutral grain spirit, rendering it similar to an apple whiskey. In France, the most well-known apple brandy is called Calvados, after the region in which it’s produced. When made properly, these styles of brandy are crisp and fruity, with delicate baking spices, making them perfect for both sipping and mixing in cocktails. These are eight to try.

  • Applejack Rabbit

    Applejack Rabbit cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This cocktail first appeared in Judge Jr.’s 1927 cocktail book, “Here’s How,” and this version received a contemporary facelift from renowned bartender Jim Meehan. It combines Laird’s bonded apple brandy, lemon and orange juices, and maple syrup. Meehan’s version adds a bit more lemon juice to the mix than did the original, providing a stronger backbone for this cocktail that tastes as though it were plucked from a tree during a fall harvest.

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  • Brandy Old Fashioned

    Brandy Old Fashioned / Tim Nusog

    The Old Fashioned is a cocktail that needs no introduction. This most-classic mixture of spirit, water, sugar and bitters is one that was commonly consumed with brandy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Wisconsin, where brandy is still commonly used, this cocktail often is adulterated with fruits and soda, but it’s at its finest when the apple brandy can shine on its own. Keep it simple with apple brandy, a dash of simple syrup and another of Angostura bitters, an orange twist, and one large cube. It’s the best way to experience the flavor of the spirit.

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  • Brandy Sangaree

    Brandy Sangaree / Tim Nusog

    The Sangaree is a cocktail hailing from the West Indies, and the earliest known mentions date back to the 18th century. Initially, it was made sans ice, a luxurious ingredient at the time, but eventually came to be served chilled. It’s essentially a single-serving punch, which cocktail historians define as a mixture of water, sugar, spice and a wine or spirit. The Brandy Sangaree is a no-frills mixture of precisely the aforementioned components, plus port wine, offering a delicious taste of history.

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  • Calvados Sidecar

    Calvados Sidecar

    If you typically find cognac and other aged grape brandies too sweet, with their notes of raisins, dates and other dried fruits, but you love a good Margarita or similar, give the Calvados Sidecar a try. In it, Calvados replaces the usual cognac, joining lemon juice and Cointreau in a coupe glass with a cinnamon-sugar rim. It’s a simple yet sophisticated drink redolent of warm fall flavors.

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    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • Forbidden Apple

    Forbidden Apple cocktail

     Jacques Bezuidenhout

    If you enjoy a Champagne Cocktail, this apple-forward Francophile take on the bubbly classic is a logical next step. Calvados takes center stage and pairs with Grand Marnier, a cognac-based orange liqueur, to strike a balance of sweetness and apple spice, while Champagne adds texture and Angostura bitters season the mixture.

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  • Jack Rose

    Jack Rose cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This most classic of applejack cocktails, which reached peak popularity during the 1920s and ’30s, combines the spirit with lemon juice and grenadine, resulting in a rose-colored drink that perfectly walks the balance between sweet and sour.

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  • Princess Mary’s Pride

    Princess Mary's Pride / Tim Nusog

    This Calvados classic was created in honor of Princess Mary's 1922 wedding and is a close cousin to the rye-whiskey-centric Old Pal. While the recipe calls for French brandy specifically, any apple brandy can be used. The drink is a spirituous mix of an apple brandy and aperitif—Dubonnet Rouge is preferred, but Campari will do—and dry vermouth. Give it a thorough stir, and garnish it with the expressed oil of an orange peel to add a citrusy aromatic appeal.

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  • Stone Fence

    Stone Fence cocktail / Tim Nusog

    This is an autumnal cocktail through and through. It’s a simple mixture of a base spirit—in this case, apple brandy—and apple cider, plus Angostura bitters for notes of baking spices. If blended applejack appeals to you for its whiskey-like characteristics, this is the perfect cocktail for accentuating those.

    Get the recipe.