Like flannel shirts or the much-derided pumpkin spice latte, apple picking has become another yearly signifier of autumn’s arrival. Similar to the other things that make the season — tailgating, adult Halloween costumes, pumpkin beer — it’s slightly ridiculous. After all, we can’t think of any other activity that sends ostensible city slickers into the countryside to pay for the privilege of picking their own fruit.
All logical concerns aside, there’s just something satisfying about picking a basket of your own apples on a crisp November day. So satisfying, that you may return to your non orchard-adjacent living space and realize you have a glut of apples on your hands.
That is where Crown Royal whisky comes in.
There are many good reasons to mix apples and Crown Royal. The whisky’s creamy texture and rich flavors of oak and vanilla marry beautifully with apple and all the flavors that tend to accompany the fruit — cinnamon, brown butter, baking spices and beyond.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to outline five ways that you can use orchard-picked apples to enhance the flavor of Crown Royal whisky in cocktails. Read on below for more apple-enhanced whisky goodness.
Infuse the Source
An easy way to turn any whisky-involved cocktail —from an Old-Fashioned to a Manhattan to a Lion’s Tail — into its apple equivalent is to first infuse the whisky itself with apples. It’s a pretty simple process: you’ll just want to core and slice an apple, and then combine those slices with your whisky in a mason jar (or any other sealed container) for a period of several days to several weeks.
There’s no hard and fast rule on when the apples should be removed. Instead, it’s a matter of personal preference: the longer the apples infuse with the whisky, the more apple-y your final product will be. To suss this out, occasionally taste your whisky while it’s infusing to determine whether it’s absorbed the amount of apple flavor you’re seeking. Once that metric is met, strain it back into the original bottle and start deciding which classic whisky cocktails might benefit from an apple remix.
While we’ve outlined the most basic way to create apple-infused whisky, you can also up the ante with apple pie-infused whisky. Follow the same steps but add those spices (just the spices!) associated with apple pie —cinnamon, allspice, etc.— to the whisky and allow it to infuse with the apples for extra autumnal flavor.
Simply Turn It into Syrup
Simple syrup, which as its name implies, is nothing more than sugar and water melded together after a brief simmer on the stove. It works like a blank canvas for flavor. Almost anything added to the saucepan during the simple syrup-making process will infuse the final product with its own flavors, apples included.
So, to make apple simple syrup, core and slice an apple and add it to equal parts water and sugar (for an even richer flavor use brown or demerara sugar) and simmer the ingredients together in a saucepan for a few minutes. Once you’ve whisked the combination into a clear syrup, strain out the apples and bottle the syrup before refrigerating for up to one week.
In this way, you can make an Apple Old-Fashioned with regular, non apple-infused Crown Royal by reaching for your apple simple syrup. To complete the theme, garnish the drink with an apple slice and maybe even a cinnamon stick for good measure.
Muddle it Up
Plenty of cocktails call for muddling, most classically the Whisky Smash or Mint Julep. In those drinks, it’s mint that gets muddled up with syrup to extract the herb’s flavor before combining with spirit.
However, apples are fair game for mudding, too. To make a more autumnal iteration of the Whisky Smash, combine cored and sliced apples with simple syrup or brown sugar at the bottom of a shaker and briefly muddle to pull out the apple’s flavor and aromatics. Add Crown Royal Whisky, then give it a dry shake before straining into a rocks glass full of crushed ice.
Juice it, Then Sour It
This one might be considered a shortcut, as juicing your own apples at home can be a bit of a chore. For that reason, we’ll withhold any judgement should you decide to pick up apple juice from a local farm stand instead.
Either way, you’ll discover that apple juice can take the place of lemon juice in a whole family of whisky-involved drinks, most notably the Whisky Sour. Just remember that because apple juice is less tart than lemon juice, you might want to cut back on the simple syrup in your drink build.
How Do You Like Them Apple Garnishes?
And lastly, we come to the apple garnish. At its most basic, an apple slice can spruce up a simple Old-Fashioned (and also serve as a useful stirring device). But should you be feeling extra-crafty, you can make dehydrated apple garnishes by slicing the apples very thinly before arranging them on a baking sheet and baking on low heat.
After a few hours in the oven, you’ll be rewarded with thin, crispy apple chips that would also make a fine snack but can instead be floated on top of any whisky drink served up, like a Manhattan (just try and resist making any “Big Apple” puns).
No Bounty of Apples?
No problem! You can still celebrate the fall season by picking up your own bottle of Crown Royal Regal Apple.
This article is sponsored by Diageo.