This autumn-inspired riff on the classic Negroni is bursting with crisp apple, bittersweet citrus, and cinnamon spice. If you enjoy a spirit-forward fall cocktail, this Bitter Apple Negroni is for you!
Less bitter than a classic Negroni, this variation is a great introduction to bittersweet cocktails.
The classic Negroni combines equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and the bitter liqueur Campari. It’s a potent, bittersweet, cocktail that perfectly balances bold herbal and citrusy flavors.
There are many variations on this classic cocktail, and this one was inspired by the modern White Negroni (which ironically is not white in color). The White Negroni uses the liqueur Suze in place of Campari, and its sweetness comes from the pale aromatized wine Lillet Blanc rather than sweet red vermouth.
Bitter Apple Negroni ingredients:
- Laird’s Applejack or other apple brandy
- Suze bitter liqueur
- Cocchi Americano
- Apple cinnamon syrup (recipe below)
Applejack: America’s apple brandy
Rather than the gin used in the classic and White Negroni, I chose applejack for this recipe to play up the seasonal flavors. Applejack is a type of fruit brandy made from – you guessed it, apples! It was first made by the Laird family in New Jersey in the late 1600s and became a popular liquor during colonial times.
Applejack is a smooth, tangy, slightly sweet liquor with a characteristic apple aroma. Although often compared to the French apple brandy Calvados, applejack is a bit lighter in flavor and a bit rougher around the edges.
What is Suze?
Suze is a French bitter liqueur made with gentian root and other botanicals. It’s flavor is unique and very herbal with a floral, honey-like sweetness. This liqueur is a nice alternative to Campari in cocktails like the Negroni, although it is not quite as intensely bitter. Suze is a bit vegetal and it has an astringent quality to its bitter finish.
Suze pairs nicely with many fruit flavors, including apple. I chose to use it in this Negroni variation because it complements and doesn’t overpower the delicate apple flavors in the applejack and the syrup. Also try Suze in a spritz with sparkling wine, a splash of club soda, and a lemon twist.
Cocchi Americano vs. Lillet Blanc or blanc vermouth
Rather than sweet vermouth or blanc vermouth, I’ve used Cocchi Americano to add sweetness and depth to this Negroni variation. Cocchi Americano is a citrusy aromatized wine from Italy that has a noticeable bitter note from gentian.
I went with Cocchi Americano over Lillet Blanc because although they’re similar, the added bitterness of the Cocchi is welcomed against the added sweetness of my homemade apple cinnamon syrup.
How to make the apple cinnamon syrup
This apple syrup is easy to whip up, and it’s also easy to make in both small and large batches. For a small batch, add a half cup of water and a half cup of sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat.
Stir frequently until all of the sugar has dissolved, then add one chopped green apple and a cinnamon stick broken into a few pieces. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes, or until the fruit just begins to break down.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool fully before straining. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the solids. Store any leftover syrup in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Try another fall cocktail that uses this apple cinnamon syrup: First Frost.
Tips for making perfect stirred cocktails every time
To make a great stirred cocktail, it’s important to stir for long enough to thoroughly chill and dilute your ingredients. If you don’t stir long enough, your drink will taste too strong, which can ruin an already strong-tasting drink like a Negroni or a Manhattan. Aim to stir about thirty revolutions.
Use plenty of ice fresh from the freezer in your mixing glass. Rather than pouring each ingredient over the ice, be sure to add the ice last. This step prevents your drink from becoming too watered down.
Strain your chilled cocktail over fresh ice and don’t forget to garnish with an expressed lemon peel. The lemon oils enhance the sweet flavors in this Bitter Apple Negroni, making it taste even more balanced.
How to garnish with apples
Garnish your Bitter Apple Negroni with a lemon twist and an apple fan. Apple fans are easy to make and they look very impressive. To make an apple fan, cut off one side of an apple and place the flat side down.
Carefully slice the apple into three to seven thin slices and skewer them with a cocktail pick. Gently fan the slices out before placing the garnish on the cocktail. Find a full tutorial and my best apple fan tips in my 5 Easy (And Beautiful) Garnishes guide.
You may also like these other fall cocktails:
- 8 Cocktails to Make You Fall in Love with Fall!
- First Frost (Rum and Green Chartreuse) Cocktail
- Turmeric Chai Hot Buttered Rum
- Blood Orange Honey Whiskey Sour
- Pear Ginger Pisco Sour
Bitter Apple Negroni (And more fall cocktails!)
- 1½ oz Laird's Applejack
- 1 oz Cocchi Americano
- ½ oz Suze
- ½ oz apple cinnamon syrup (recipe below)
- Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Stir until very cold, about 30 times. Strain the liquid into a rocks glass filled with ice (or over one large cube).
- Garnish with an expressed lemon twist and an apple fan, if desired.
Apple Cinnamon SyrupIngredients:
- 1 green apple
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water