I have an easy Apple Cider Cocktail to put a twinkle in your eye and add sparkle to your evening. Light, refreshing, and adaptable to just about any base alcohol you prefer, it’s just the spirited sip you need to toast the holidays.

A glass of a chilled apple cider cocktail with an apple slice

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This festive cocktail is made with Apple Cider, bourbon, a squeeze of lemon, and ginger beer.

It’s wonderfully spiced, not too sweet, and perfect for the holiday season (like its morning cousin, Apple Cider Mimosa).

A garnish of apple slices, cinnamon, and thyme makes it beautiful enough for an intimate special occasion, while its fast and easy preparation makes it the perfect apple cider cocktail for a crowd.

A cold apple cider cocktail in a glass next to apples and cinnamon sticks

Any evening would feel immediately cheerful with one of these drinks in your hand.

What I love most about this cold apple cider cocktail is it’s easy to scale (like my favorite Christmas Punch).

I’ve included directions for both one drink and a pitcher, so whether you are pouring for two or a few, this simple cocktail recipe has you covered.

Apple cider cocktail with bourbon or rum beside cinnamon sticks and thyme

5 Star Review

“Easy, refreshing, & fun! Glad I tried it–thanks!”

— Sarah —

How to Make an Apple Cider Cocktail

This cocktail leans to the bright/refreshing side.

It will lighten up a winter evening and would be enjoyable as an early fall or even summer apple cider cocktail too.

Since the ingredients here are few, be sure to choose each one carefully. I’ve suggested some of my favorites.

Tip!

For a warm cocktail, check out my recipe for Mulled Wine or Hot Buttered Bourbon.


The Ingredients

  • Bourbon. Choose something good enough to sip on its own, but not so high-end you want to avoid mixing it altogether. Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, and Buffalo Trace are my go-to’s for cocktails (and Bourbon Balls).

Substitution Tip

You also can make this recipe with rum, a different whiskey, or vodka. Tequila would be an interesting experiment (use blanco tequila).

I wouldn’t recommend this apple cider cocktail with gin, as its herbal flavor would be too strong.

  • Apple Cider. I like an organic unfiltered apple cider (it will look cloudy but has so much flavor). These are easy to find in the bottled juice section (shelf stable) at most grocery stores, or use my homemade Apple Cider recipe.

Substitution Tip

If you’re having trouble locating apple cider at your store, good-quality apple juice may also be used in this recipe.

  • Ginger Beer. A slightly sweet, slightly spicy non-alcoholic beverage that tastes delightful mixed into cocktails. It has a stronger taste than ginger ale and is less carbonated. My top pick is Fever-Tree. It has the most pure, zesty flavor and will make your cold apple cider cocktail shine.
  • Lemon Juice. Helps the other flavors pop and adds a little pucker to balance the cocktail and keep it from being too sweet.
  • Orange Liqueur. Optional for an additional layer of “fancy.” I recommend Grand Marnier or Cointreau. Stay away from triple sec, as it is too cloyingly sweet.

The Directions

  1. Fill a glass with ice and add all of the ingredients except the ginger beer.
  2. Stir, add the ginger beer, then stir again.
  3. Finish with garnishes. CHEERS!
An easy apple cider cocktail drink in a glass with cinnamon sticks

Storage Tips

  • To Store. This drink is best the day it is made; if you anticipate extra, add the ginger beer to the individual servings only, then refrigerate the bourbon/cider/orange liqueur base in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Top with fresh ginger beer just before serving.

Make-Ahead Tip

To make a pitcher of this refreshing apple cider cocktail, combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher except for the ginger beer. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Pour into individual glasses and top with ginger beer just before serving.

The BEST apple cider cocktail recipe with cinnamon and apple

What to Serve with Apple Cider Cocktails

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Pitcher. Perfect for making a larger batch of this cocktail.
  • Jigger. For precise measurements every time.
  • Citrus Juicer. A tool worth having in your kitchen.

Must-Have Citrus Juicer

I won’t juice a lemon or lime without this tool now. It’s incredibly easy to use and clean.

A glass of apple cider cocktail with an apple slice

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Whether you’ll be enjoying old holiday traditions or forging new ones this year, I am wishing you all a merry, meaningful season!

I hope this apple cider cocktail brings a little extra spirit.♥️ 

(And, if you’re in need of a little extra holiday cheer, spiking a batch of my favorite Crockpot Hot Chocolate always does the trick for me!)

Frequently Asked Questions

What Alcohol is Good with Apple Cider?

Many alcohols mix well with apple cider. Dark liquors like bourbon (my pick) or dark rum are traditional, but they are by no means the only option. Vodka pairs well with apple cider and is a good light option. You can even let guests each pick their own.

Can I Enjoy This Apple Cider Cocktail Warm?

I have only ever made this recipe as a cold apple cider cocktail since ginger beer does not lend itself well to being heated. However, I imagine the other flavors would work well together warm. If you decide to play around with turning this into a hot apple cider cocktail, I’d love to hear about your results.

Is Apple Cider the Same as Apple Juice?

No. While cider and apple juice can often be swapped for one another in recipes, they are two entirely different products. Apple juice is made from freshly pressed apples that are filtered and pasteurized before being bottled. Cider, on the other hand, is usually unfiltered and unpasteurized, which gives the cider a darker, cloudier appearance.

A glass of apple cider cocktail with an apple slice

Apple Cider Cocktail

5 from 1 vote
The BEST apple cider cocktail recipe. This easy cocktail made with apple cider and ginger beer can be mixed with bourbon, whiskey, or vodka.

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins

Servings: 1 drink

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces bourbon* recommended: Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, or Four Roses — this cocktail is also delicious with vodka or rum
  • 2 ounces apple cider I prefer unfiltered
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 3 ounces ginger beer recommended: Fever Tree
  • OPTIONAL: 1/2 ounce orange liqueur recommended: Grand Marnier or Cointreau; I do not recommend triple sec; it’s just too sweet
  • Garnish: Cinnamon stick apple slice, spring of thyme

Instructions
 

  • Fill a rocks glass (or copper mug!) with ice.
  • Pour in the bourbon, cider, lemon juice, and orange liqueur (if using). Add the ginger beer.
  • Gently swirl the drink with a spoon one time to mix. Garnish with an apple slice, cinnamon stick, and spring of thyme. Enjoy!

Notes

  • TO MAKE A PITCHER (5 DRINKS): Stir together 10 ounces bourbon, 10 ounces apple cider, 2 1/2 ounces lemon juice, and 2 1/2 ounces orange liqueur (if using). Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours or until ready to serve. To make the drinks, fill glasses with ice. Divide the mixture from the pitcher between them. Top with ginger beer and garnish as desired.
  • TO STORE: This drink is best the day it is made; if you anticipate extra, add the ginger beer to the individual servings only, then refrigerate the bourbon/cider/orange liqueur base in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Top with fresh ginger beer just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1drinkCalories: 189kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 57mgSugar: 13gVitamin C: 5mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. I could only find the Simply Apple Juice (pure pressed, unfiltered)… is this different from apple cider or are you using the terms interchangeably? Thanks!

    1. Hi Tiffany! The terms are not interchangeable, they are two different products but you can substitute the apple juice for the apple cider. Hope you enjoy it!