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 to toast this holiday weekend.

A glass of 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 not too sweet.

A garnish of apple slices, cinnamon, and thyme make it beautiful enough for a special occasion, but it’s so fast and easy to mix up, you can make one any night of the week.

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

This apple cider cocktail is easy to scale. I’ve included amounts both for one drink and for a pitcher, so whether you are pouring for two or a few, this recipe has you covered.

Apple cider cocktail with cinnamon sticks

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 cider cocktail too.

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


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.

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

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 four of my go-tos.

Substitution Tip

You also can make this recipe with rum or vodka. 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). These are easy to find in the bottled juice section (shelf stable) at most grocery stores.
  • 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 cider cocktail shine.
  • Lemon Juice. To help the other flavors pop and to keep the cocktail 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. Finish with garnishes. CHEERS!
A drink in a glass with cinnamon sticks

Make-Ahead Tip

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.

Apple cider cocktail with cinnamon and apple

What to Serve with Apple Cider Cocktails

A drink in a glass next to apples and cinnamon sticks

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 spending this Christmas enjoying old holiday traditions or forging new ones, I am wishing you all a merry, meaningful Christmas weekend! I hope this apple cider cocktail brings a little extra spirit.♥️ 

A glass of apple cider cocktail with an apple slice

Apple Cider Cocktail

5 from 1 vote
Delicious with bourbon, vodka, or rum, this easy Apple Cider Cocktail uses ginger beer for refreshing flavor that's perfect for any occasion!

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

Servings: 1 drink


  • 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
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • 3 ounces ginger beer recommended: Fever Tree
  • OPTIONAL: ½ ounce orange liqueur recommended: Grand Marnier or Cointreu; I do not recommend triple sec; it’s just too sweet
  • Garnish: Cinnamon stick apple slice, spring of thyme


  • 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!


  • 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.


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!