Delicious apple cocktails in the South Sound

Forbidden fruit: The best kind of apple picking

By Christian Carvajal on October 1, 2014

"Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love." - Song of Solomon 2:5, KJV

I'm a 2007 transplant to the South Sound. Even before I moved here, though, I knew Washington was famous for four things: designer coffee, incessant rainfall, sparkly vampires who dated mouth-breathing jailbait and apples. Yes, apples: Malus domestica, the pomaceous accessory fruit so sweet, juicy and luscious that Heracles was required to steal them from the garden of the Hesperides as his penultimate labor. This being the season of Rosh Hashanah, it's worth noting that Jewish tradition recommends apples dipped in honey as a way of invoking a "sweet new year." (In honor of my proud Sephardic ancestors, I recommend the same dessert and bid you "muchos anyos" and "tizku l'shanim rabot," "many years.") There's more than one way to keep the doctor away, of course, and I prefer methods that include a stiff drink.

It's fall, Gentle Reader. This is apple season. So when one bartender suggested apple drinks were unpopular at present, I went on something of a warpath. Not on my watch, I thought, and dug deeper. Sure enough, Hilltop Kitchen offers a delicious drink called a Cut It Out that's sexy enough to seduce Eve from Eden. It contains cachaça (a Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane juice), rooibos and yerba mate, ginger beer, and spicy apple drinking vinegar, all on the rocks in a tall glass. Sold!

Olympia's Swing Wine Bar and Café offers its signature take on the apple blossom cocktail. Their version's made from Soft Tail Washington Apple Vodka, Laird's Applejack, pomegranate juice, sugar and orange bitters on the rocks. Dillingers Cocktails & Kitchen offers three apple cocktails, starting with the Jack Rose: a confection of line, grenadine and Calvados Apple Brandy straight up (i.e., shaken with ice but served neat). The Washington 75 is a Dillingers cocktail made from Calvados Apple Brandy, lemon, simple sugar and Whitewood Cider in a champagne flute. That cider's used as a topper on Dillingers' Stone Fence, which finds it over bourbon, lemon, simple sugar and Angostura bitters on the rocks.

Whitewood Cider Co., by the way, is an Oly-based "nanocidery" that distributes handcrafted apple hooch to cocktail bars and restaurants all over the South Sound, including the Eastside Club, Rhythm & Rye, Pint Defiance, The Red Hot and 99 Bottles. Try it in an "apple strudel" with an ounce and a half of Rumple Minze, or in an "apple pie shot" with an equal ounce of vodka topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. Finish your evening with an "autumn manhattan," an ounce of applejack, two of bourbon, one of sweet vermouth, and two splashes of bitters with a slice of real apple, all served straight up in a martini glass. Then crash on the couch and dream of vast, misty Washington orchards - with plenty of cocktail nights to follow.

¡Muchos anyos, mis amigos!

Hilltop Kitchen, 913 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.327.1397

Swing Wine Bar and Café, 825 Columbia St. SW, Olympia, 360.357.9464

Dillingers Cocktails & Kitchen, 404 Washington St. SE, Olympia, 360.515.0650