Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Cider House Rules

Cider House Rules / Tim Nusog

Billy Grise, the food and beverage director at Coppin’s Restaurant & Bar in Covington, Kentucky, is a big fan of author John Irving, who penned this cocktail’s namesake novel, a coming-of-age story of an orphan who leaves his home to explore the world. With this drink, you can enjoy a seasonal beverage while exploring the world of cider.

“My inspiration for the cocktail was to create something that kept the essence of the end of summer while equally welcoming the fall,” says Grise.

To make the Cider House Rules, he begins with Buffalo Trace, a 45% ABV bourbon from his home state. Strawberry cider supplies that summer-to-fall seasonality, adding notes of sweet-tart fruit to the drink. Grise suggests a bottle from CiderBoys or Kopparberg if you can find it, though other strawberry ciders can certainly fill in. You can even go another route entirely and substitute a different flavor if you prefer, as this cocktail allows for some experimentation. To cap things off, Grise enlists honey syrup and lemon juice for balance, and he adds a dash of blackstrap bitters to tie the room together with a subtle hint of molasses, cinnamon and sarsaparilla.

Follow Grise’s lead, and in a few short minutes, you’ll have a delicious bourbon-spiked cider cocktail in your hand. But not before you adorn the top with aromatic mint and cinnamon, plus a dusting of powdered sugar.


  • 2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon

  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup

  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1 dash Bittercube Blackstrap bitters

  • 5 ounces strawberry cider, chilled

  • Garnish: mint sprig

  • Garnish: grated cinnamon

  • Garnish: powdered sugar


  1. Add all the ingredients except the cider to a Hurricane glass over ice.

  2. Top with the cider.

  3. Garnish with a mint sprig, grated cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Mint Sprig Garnish

Firmly slap the mint sprig on the back of your hand before garnishing; this releases the oils to make the mint more aromatic.