How to Make a Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

This bourbon apple cider cocktail is perfect for enjoying around a bonfire or curled up with a good book and a flannel shirt.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Pair fresh apple cider with bourbon and you’ve got a quintessential fall sipper.

This bourbon apple cider cocktail strikes the perfect balance between fresh and cozy. Featuring sweet apple cider, bright lemon juice and warming bourbon, this cocktail has got everything you want when the seasons start to shift.

Easy Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail Recipe

ingredients for a bourbon apple cocktail on a counter, view from aboveLauren grant for taste of home

Apple cider is the ideal drink for cool months. To keep with that flannel season vibe, I like to muddle fresh rosemary with sugar and bitters to bring both freshness and warmth into the cocktail. And don’t skip out on the cocktail bitters. A few dashes of Angostura bitters will balance out the sweetness.


  • 1 rosemary sprig, plus more for garnish
  • 1 brown sugar cube, or 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • lemon wheel, for garnish

Tools You’ll Need

  • Cocktail mixing glass: I prefer to stir many whiskey cocktails—not all—but many. This one can be mixed in either a mixing glass or a cocktail shaker, your choice!
  • Muddler: You’ll need a muddler to muddle the sugar, rosemary and bitters. I like to use a wooden muddler or a metal muddler with a rubber end. If you don’t have one, the handle of a wooden spoon will work.
  • Strainer: One of the most helpful tools for making cocktails at home is a cocktail strainer. It fits right onto the cup of the cocktail shaker, and catches bits of herbs and produce with ease.


Step 1: Muddle the rosemary and sugar

top view of a glass with muddled sugar and rosemaryLauren grant for taste of home

In a cocktail mixing glass, muddle rosemary, sugar and bitters until the herbs are fragrant and sugar starts to dissolve.

Step 2: Add remaining ingredients

top view of a cocktail being mixed in a glassLauren grant for taste of home

Add apple cider, bourbon and lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Editor’s Tip: With any cocktail, fresh citrus juice tastes best, so skip the bottled stuff.

Step 3: Shake to chill

top view of an iced cocktailLauren grant for taste of home

Fill the glass with ice and stir for about 30 seconds until thoroughly chilled.

Step 4: Strain and garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Place strainer over mixing glass and strain cocktail over ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and lemon wheel.

Want to try more variations? Here’s our list of the best bourbon cocktails.

Tips for Making This Cocktail

What spices can I add to this cocktail?

If you are looking for a cocktail that features warming spices, check out this version of a bourbon apple cider cocktail. All you have to do is sprinkle in some nutmeg and cardamom and top it off with cinnamon sticks!

What bourbon goes best with apple cider?

As I always say, the best bourbon is one you enjoy drinking on its own!

However, if you’re looking for a bit more direction, opt for a bourbon that’s middle of the road in terms of price. You don’t want to use overly expensive bourbon for any mixed drink—save the pricey stuff for serving neat or on the rocks. Likewise, don’t use something too cheap or bottom shelf or you’ll end up with a drink that burns instead of going down smooth.

I prefer Kentucky bourbon, but for something fall-inspired, try rye that features notes of warm spices.

What’s the difference between bourbon and whiskey?

I get asked this question a lot because most people get confused about the difference between bourbon and whiskey. Remember this: All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Whiskey is a spirit fermented from grain mash and aged in wood barrels. It’s distilled all around the world and includes varieties such as Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, and American whiskey.

The most notable of American whiskeys are bourbon. Like champagne, there are a variety of qualifications a whiskey must meet to be labeled as bourbon. For starters, it must be distilled in the United States and must contain at least 51% corn mash.

Contrary to popular belief, bourbon does not need to come from Kentucky. A large percentage of bourbon does come from Kentucky, but it doesn’t have to come from Kentucky to be designated as “bourbon.” For it to be labeled as “Kentucky bourbon”, the spirit has to be distilled and aged in Kentucky.

Other than apple cider, what else do you recommend I mix with whiskey?

We’ve got tons of ideas of what to mix with whiskey. I personally love making a Bourbon Smash (light and refreshing) but you also can’t go wrong with the classic Manhattan.

Lauren Grant
The veggie- and cheese-obsessed lady behind the food blog Zestful Kitchen, Lauren Grant is a trained Culinary Scientist and Journalist. She is a blogger, writer, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer.