How Do You Like Them Apples?
By Lisa Green
You can have your pumpkin spice…whatever. For me, fall is all about the apples. And there’s no place better than the Rural Intelligence region for all of us to indulge in that all-American fruit (fun fact: the apple comes from the rose family). There’s almost nothing more enjoyable than pulling the reddening poms off the tree on a brisk fall day. Or that first bite into a crisp, sweet/tart Macoun.
But if you prefer to drink your apples, there’s that, too. On a warm sunny day last week, we took a drive out to Harvest Spirits Distillery in Valatie, New York. Rural Intelligence has written about this family-run business before, and we always enjoy visiting both the distillery and farm market. Established in 2007 to make use of the surplus apples at the family’s Golden Harvest Farms, the distillery produces vodka, applejack, specialty brandies and some new concoctions, all made from the farm’s 20-plus varieties of apples.
For this story, I chose to highlight a few of the most apple-y products in the tasting room. The Cornelius Applejack is made from 100-percent apples, carefully distilled twice and aged to create a brandy that tastes like bourbon. Another, the Cornelius Cherry, is made with bing cherries soaked in the Applejack, then strained into oak barrels.
With an endless supply of apples, the Harvest Spirits team certainly has the wherewithal to experiment with other uses, and has ventured into creating a line of non-alcoholic balsamics called Harvest Vinegar Works.
“We’re using ethanol in very creative ways,” said Derek Grout [below], one of the distillery’s owners, as he showed us around the tasting room. The Apple Cider Vinegar is made by cooking the apples before slowly fermenting them in oak barrels. The Fire Apple Vinegar starts with the Apple Cider Vinegar base and packs in honey, ginger, garlic and Chipotle peppers — a potent brew that’s great for staving off a cold, and adds a nice spicy flavor to salad dressings…or a Bloody Mary.
No one ever said the apple a day couldn’t be in a cocktail. (Or sprinkled over salad.) Harvest Spirits supplied us with these drink recipes.
The Johnny Applejack
Pour ingredients together:
2 oz. Cornelius Applejack
3 oz. apple cider
½ ox. fresh lemon juice
1 dash bitters
Serve in a Tom Collins glass with ice. Garnish with lemon.
Cherry Chocolate Milk
Shake over ice:
2 oz. Cornelius Cherry Brandy
4 oz. whole chocolate milk
Strain into a frozen glass. Garnish with brandied cherry.