Autumn cocktails on the mind

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted — yikes! October was a blur of activity, from event-planning to regional travel (Kohler one weekend and Vegas the next — polar opposites), and a totally lovely yet totally hip fall wedding nestled in the middle.

Our dear friends Dustin & Jennifer tied the knot a few weekends back, and had asked me to create a signature cocktail to serve at the reception. Their only requirements? That it be based in brandy, and taste like autumn. After a lot of tinkering, this is the drink we sipped in their honor.

The 12/28 [named for the bride & groom’s shared birthday]
1 ounce Laird’s apple brandy
1 ounce Old Overholt rye whiskey
1 ounce cinnamon-pepper syrup*
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce sparkling apple juice
Apple slice garnish
Cinnamon dust

1. In a mixing glass with ice, combine brandy, rye, syrup & lemon juice; stir until cold.
2. Strain into old-fashioned or rocks glass; top with sparkling apple juice.
3. Garnish with apple slice; dust with cinnamon.

* Cinnamon-Pepper syrup
1. In a sauce pan, combine equal parts granulated sugar and water.
2. Per 1/2 cup sugar and water, add 6 cinnamon sticks & 1 tablespoon black peppercorn. (My batch was 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup water + 6 cinnamon sticks + 1 T pepper)
3. Warm ingredients over medium heat until just about to boil, stirring as you go to dissolve sugar into a syrup. Liquid will become amber in color as cinnamon & pepper do their thing.
4. When sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
5. Let cool, then strain into an airtight container (I use a vinegar pourer). Can keep in the fridge for weeks!