The Rye and Cider Mulligatawny Cocktail takes its inspiration from the way in which cocktails were made in America’s early days. Then, as now, apples were an important crop for the Northeastern states, and whiskey—usually rye whiskey— was the only tipple available to the average drinker. Rye whiskey would have been added to apple cider to give it a bit of kick, a combination that lives on in this cocktail. As usual, though, there’s a twist: Curry bitters (or, in a pinch, curry powder added to “regular” aromatic bitters) is a tip of the hat to a warm, spicy bowl of mulligatawny stew, which features both apples and curry. Sound weird? It isn’t. Dry, spicy rye is the perfect foil to sweet apples—and the curry bitters bind it all together beautifully.
A libation to whet the appetite
1 apple, preferably one with crisp flesh such as a Macintosh or a Macoun, sliced thickly and seared on a cast-iron pan until soft, but not mushy
1/2 teaspoon absinthe
2 ounces (60 ml) rye whiskey
1/4 ounce (7 ml) Italian sweet vermouth
1 ounce (30 ml) hard apple cider (or apple brandy, or calvados [a type of apple brandy from the Normandy region of France])
4 drops curry bitters (alternatively, use your basic aromatic bitters, and add a very small pinch of curry powder)
Hand-cut ice cube
- Prep Time: 10m
Muddle a couple of grilled, softened apple slices with the absinthe in an old-fashioned glass. Add the ice, rye whiskey, and the sweet vermouth. Then add the apple cider or apple brandy, and drip the curry bitters over the top of the glass for a spicy, savory, mulligatawny finish. Here’s to rye’s venerable history!