Bittered Sling Bitters | Apples, Delicious Cocktails and The Order of Good Cheer in Nova Scotia
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Apples, Delicious Cocktails and The Order of Good Cheer in Nova Scotia

Apples, Delicious Cocktails and The Order of Good Cheer in Nova Scotia

By Shane Beehan

In a maritime climate, especially one nestled directly on the North Atlantic, living season to season is a way of life. You learn to say goodbye to one solstice just as you learn to accept another, and the only thing that makes letting go of summer easy is accepting autumn in all its glory. As the nights continue to cool and the sun sets a little earlier each day, fall comes into itself. As it does, it brings my favourite October harvest; apples.

When the French landed in Port Royal, Nova Scotia, they brought some flora from their homeland in the early seventeenth century, including apples that are not native to North America. The first apple tree in Canada was planted in the Annapolis Valley around the same time. The first food and drink society was founded in 1606, The Order of Good Cheer. The cider was consumed in large quantities to help soften the blow of adapting to a new and rugged climate. The connection between what we drink and our natural world has always been a way of life.

Over 40 different apple types, including many heritage varieties, are cultivated in Nova Scotia today, each with their own flavour profile and identity. When it comes to cocktails, there is no shortage of inspiration this time of year. Apples are an incredibly versatile ingredient; in its raw form, fermented or distilled, they offer beautiful seasonal flavours and textures. You can utilize a fresh apple to transform your cocktail in many ways, one of my favourite being a fresh slice to create an apple fan garnish, adding visual aesthetics, aroma, and a textured crunch.

You can also make syrups, teas, cordials, vinegar and jams, which are all great ingredients to add complexity to your cocktail. As much as I love the first bite of a fresh apple right from the tree, I think that the first sip of it used in a cocktail is comparable in joy.

Preservation has always been a way to lengthen the life of seasonal fruit and vegetables, and while October might be peak season for apple picking, rest assured with some fermentation and/or distillation, you can enjoy your apples all year round. Apple Brandy is a sneaky ingredient for me in cocktails; it pairs perfectly with many base spirits and liqueurs and adds a special quality to your favourite classics when splitting the base. Before I truly enjoyed a Daiquiri or Margarita, the Jack Rose with Calvados was the first cocktail to really win my heart.

Lately, I have been enjoying using different types of hard ciders in my cocktails; a bittersweet, acidic, bubbly pop to a cocktail transforms the entire drinking experience. Next time you make yourself a mixed drink, try adding a splash of bright, hard cider. As much as it helps lengthen your cocktails, it also takes on a new life its own. When the Doctor said an apple a day, I really think they meant in liquid form. After all, drinking a little apple does as much for our spirits as eating one does for our minds and bodies.

Shane Beehan has been working professionally in the hospitality industry for 15 years and is the Bar Manager for Lot Six in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Blue Moon Landing
By Shane Beehan

1oz (30 mL) Calvados
.5oz (15 mL) lime juice
.5oz (15 mL) orgeat
1 Bar Spoon of allspice dram
2 Dashes (2 mL) Bittered Sling Moondog Latin Bitters
Fresh local Cider

Shake the calvados, lime, orgeat, allspice dram and bitters until quickly chilled. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and top with 4-5oz (150mL) of fresh, lively cider. Stir briefly and garnish with a lime wheel soaked in a few drops of bitters and an apple fan.