This bourbon apple cider cocktail with ginger beer is the epitome of autumn vibes. With a splash of lime and cardamom bitters, it’s quickly become one of my go-to fall drinks for holidays, dinner parties, and get-togethers with friends.

Two bourbon apple cider cocktails on a wood table next to apples, a brown plate of cinnamon sugar, a white bowl of cinnamon, a bottle of apple cider, and a decanter.

I have been living under a blanket of heavy knits and hot soup and Sufjan Stevens for the past two weeks. A.K.A. my Disneyland.

So really the only thing that can make this autumn situation even better is a good cocktail like a tea hot toddy, a ginger old fashioned, or something of the apple cider variety.

This little cocktail is a refreshing spin on classic apple cider! It has ginger beer, fresh lime juice, and a hint of cardamom for a sweet and tart cocktail with a hint of spice. I’ve been making it for the past 7 years and it always hits on a chilly day. Let’s get into it!

About this cocktail

As much as I love apple cider, I usually find most apple cocktails to be too sweet. BUT THEN. I had this perfectly-spiced, slightly tart, delicious cocktail at one of our favorite bars. It had fancy rum, green apple juice, and nutmeg bitters. So, I came home and decided to recreate it using bourbon and cardamom, cause well, you know me.

  • If you love a fall bourbon drink, you have to give this recipe a try. This cocktail is basically autumn in a glass.
  • It’s so easy to make. No fancy bartending skills or tools needed.
  • You can make this drink in a pitcher for a crowd. Everyone loves it.
  • It’s lovely for holidays, dinner parties, and get-togethers with friends.

The ingredient list

A bottle of bourbon, bottle of apple juice, bitters, apples, limes, and a bottle of ginger beer on a wood table.
  • Bourbon – you’ll want a bourbon that’s good in cocktails. Whatever you like! My go-tos are Frey Ranch and Woodford Reserve.
  • Apple cider – make sure you’re using fresh-pressed apple cider. The kind you get at apple orchards or in the seasonal section at the grocery store. You want cider because it’s less sweet and more flavorful than juice.
  • Ginger beer – any good-quality ginger beer will work. This is a non-alcoholic ginger soda that’s stronger than ginger ale. You can find it in the alcohol aisle next to the mixers or at liquor stores!
  • Lime – make sure you’re using fresh limes for the best flavor and tartness.
  • Cardamom bitters – this will balance out the flavors in the cocktail and give the drink a nice floral spice.

Pro tip!

Make sure you’re buying a high-quality apple cider. It’s the main flavoring agent in this whiskey apple cider cocktail, so a good cider makes a difference.

Ingredient substitutions

  • Alcohol – try dark rum or vodka instead of bourbon.
  • Bitters – ginger bitters also taste amazing in this cocktail.
  • For a less sweet cocktail – use a mix of ginger beer and club soda.

How to make this drink

Three steps to garnishing a glass. In photo 1, a lime wedge wets the rim of a glass on a wood table next to apples, a bottle of bourbon, a decanter, and a white bowl of cinnamon. In photo 2, the rim of the glass is being dipped in a brown plate of cinnamon sugar. In photo 3, the glass is filled with ice.
  1. Start by combining cinnamon and sugar on a small plate.
  2. Then, use a lime wedge to wet the rim of a cocktail glass.
  3. Dip the rim of the glass into the cinnamon sugar until it’s coated. Fill the glass with ice.
Three steps to making a ginger beer apple cider bourbon cocktail. In photo 1, a glass is filled with bourbon and apple cider on a wood table next to a bottle of bourbon, apples, a bottle of apple cider, and a white bowl of cinnamon. In photo 2, a bottle is pouring ginger beer into the glass. In photo 3, a hand is squeezing lime juice into the glass.
  1. Add a shot of bourbon and the apple cider to the glass.
  2. Then, pour the ginger beer into the apple-bourbon mixture.
  3. Squeeze some fresh lime juice over the cocktail.
  1. Add a couple of dashes of cardamom bitters to the top of the cocktail.
  2. Gently stir the cocktail until everything is combined.
  3. Lastly, garnish the cocktail with a few apple slices and enjoy!

For a batch cocktail

You can also make a batch cocktail if you’re serving a crowd! Just add all of the ingredients to a pitcher or punch bowl and stir gently. Here’s the measurements for 8 cocktails, but feel free to scale it up or down depending on how many servings you need.

For 8 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups bourbon (355 milliliters)
  • 2 cups apple cider (474 milliliters)
  • 2 cups ginger beer (474 milliliters)
  • 1 ounce lime juice + more to taste (30 milliliters)
  • 16 dashes of cardamom bitters + more to taste

Serving & garnish ideas

This bourbon apple cider is one of my favorite drinks to serve at autumn holidays, dinners, and parties! It’s perfect for happy hour, pre-dinner drinks, or even dessert.

To garnish the cocktails, you have a couple of options. Here are some of my go-tos!

  • Cinnamon sugar rim + apple slices
  • A simple lime wheel or twist
  • Candied ginger or a cinnamon stick
An apple whiskey cocktail on a brown plate next to a bottle of bourbon, apples, and a decanter on a wood and beige background.

Storing & make-ahead

To store leftover cocktails, cover the pitcher or punch bowl with plastic wrap or a bowl cover. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. This cocktail is best fresh, because the ginger beer loses fizziness over time, but it still tastes good as leftovers!

You can also make this whiskey apple cider cocktail in advance! Just combine the bourbon, apple cider, lime juice, and bitters in a pitcher or punch bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Right before serving, gently stir the ginger beer into the cocktail and enjoy.

I do not recommend freezing this cocktail because the ginger beer will lose its fizziness. It’s best fresh!

Helpful tools

  • Jigger for proper measuring
  • Bar spoon (or iced tea spoon)
  • 10-ish ounce cocktail glasses

Quick tip

You can also mix this drink up in a cocktail shaker. Just add the bourbon, apple cider, lime juice, and bitters to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake until frosty, about 20 seconds. Strain the cocktail over a glass of ice and top with ginger beer.

An apple cider bourbon cocktail with ginger beer on a brown plate next to a decanter, bottle of bourbon, bottle of apple cider, apples, and leaves on a wood table.

Tips & tricks

  • Make sure you’re using a high quality ginger beer! You want the drink to taste spicy and herbal, not chemical-y.
  • Chill the ingredients before mixing. Cold ingredients will keep the ice from melting too quickly.
  • For a less sweet cocktail, add a splash of club soda. Just replace some of the ginger beer with unflavored club soda or sparkling water.
  • Are you using bitters properly? When you see a ‘dash’ of bitters, it doesn’t mean one measly drop! You want to give the bottle a good shake to get a full dash. (Also, use it like salt and pepper, meaning add the bitters to taste!)

Recipe FAQs

Is apple cider the same as juice?

Nope! Apple cider is fresh and unfiltered which makes it super flavorful and a bit cloudy. Apple juice, on the other hand, is filtered and pasteurized which makes it sweeter, clear, and less flavorful. Make sure you’re buying fresh apple cider for this recipe!

Can I make this cocktail non-alcoholic?

Sure! Just replace the bourbon with a NA whiskey replacement or omit it entirely. You can add more cider, ginger beer, or lime juice to taste. If you need this cocktail to be completely non-alcoholic, skip the bitters at the end.

Can I serve this cocktail hot?

I know a lot of cider is served hot. But in the case of this cocktail, I would say no. The ginger beer will taste a bit funky if it’s heated up!

What whiskey goes with apple cider?

I usually go with bourbon but rye would be amazing if you want something a little less sweet. For bourbon, I recommend Frey Ranch, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey 101, Four Roses, or Buffalo Trace. Or, if you want to use rye whiskey, try Rittenhouse or Knob Creek. The best rye or bourbon for apple cider totally depends on your taste, so feel free to use whatever you like!

How much alcohol is in this recipe?

That will totally depend on what brand of bourbon you use. In this recipe, I used Frey Ranch which is 90 proof or 45% alcohol by volume (ABV). Since the total volume of this drink is around 6 ounces, that would make this cocktail 25% ABV. Feel free to reduce the bourbon or add more cider or ginger beer for a lower ABV drink!

Two bourbon apple cider cocktails on a wood table next to apples, a bottle of apple cider, a decanter, leaves, and a white bowl of cinnamon.

More autumn cocktails

The Best Gløgg (Norwegian Mulled Wine)
Blood Orange Bourbon Aperol Cocktail
Cadillac Cranberry Margaritas
Sage Greyhound Cocktails

If you make this recipe, I would love it if you left a star rating and review! I read every single comment and love hearing what you think about my recipes. Thank you for supporting Sunday Table!


5 from 4 votes

Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail with Ginger Beer

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
This bourbon apple cider cocktail with ginger beer is the epitome of autumn vibes. With a splash of lime and cardamom bitters, it's quickly become one of my go-to fall drinks for holidays, dinner parties, and get-togethers with friends.

Ingredients

For a single cocktail

  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 lime wedges, divided
  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon (44 milliliters)
  • 2 ounces fresh apple cider (58 milliliters)
  • 2 ounces good-quality ginger beer (58 milliliters)
  • 2 dashes cardamom bitters (or ginger bitters)

For a batch cocktail (8 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups bourbon (355 milliliters)
  • 2 cups fresh apple cider (474 milliliters)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice + more to taste (30 milliliters)
  • 16 dashes cardamom bitters + more to taste
  • 2 cups good-quality ginger beer (474 milliliters)

Equipment

Instructions 

For a single cocktail

  • On a shallow plate, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Then, use one of the lime wedges to wet the rim of a rocks glass. Dip the rim of the glass in the cinnamon sugar until it's well-coated.
  • To make this drink in a glass: Fill the rocks glass with ice all the way to the top. Add the apple cider, bourbon, and ginger beer. Finish with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice and two dashes of cardamom bitters. Using a bar spoon, stir the cocktail until it's frosty, about 20 seconds. Enjoy!
  • To make this drink in a cocktail shaker: Fill the rocks glass with ice all the way to the top. Add the bourbon, apple cider, lime juice, and cardamom bitters to a shaker. Fill it to the top with ice and shake it until the outside is frosty, about 20 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass and top it with the ginger beer. Stir gently and enjoy!

For a batch cocktail (8 servings)

  • Combine the bourbon, apple cider, lime juice, and bitters in a punch bowl or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Right before serving, add the ginger beer and stir gently to combine. Taste and add more lime juice or bitters, if desired. Enjoy over ice!

Notes

Make sure you’re using high quality ginger beer and apple cider! You want the drink to taste fresh, spicy, and herbal, not chemical-y.
Chill the ingredients before mixing. Cold ingredients will keep the ice from melting too quickly.
The bitters are totally up to personal taste. I like the cardamom but my husband prefers ginger. Use whichever flavor you like best!
For a less sweet cocktail, add a splash of club soda. Just replace some of the ginger beer with unflavored club soda or sparkling water.
Are you using bitters properly? When you see a ‘dash’ of bitters, it doesn’t mean one measly drop! You want to give the bottle a good shake to get a full dash. (Also, use it like salt and pepper, meaning add the bitters to taste!)
Cuisine: American
Course: Drinks
Serving: 1cocktail, Calories: 152kcal, Carbohydrates: 13.9g, Protein: 0.1g, Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 55mg, Potassium: 77mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 12.7g, Calcium: 7mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @sundaytable.co on Instagram!

xo Sara Lyn

Song of the day – The Only Thing by Sufjan Stevens

Originally posted November 22, 2019.