October Companion

We’ve had a mostly beautiful fall here in New England – just the right blend of cool and crisp, sunny and warm. On a particularly pleasant afternoon last weekend, I felt like trying my hand at an autumnal cocktail. Something that would capture the spirit of a season that’s all about warm sweatshirts, colorful leaves, and rich flavors.

Here’s what I call the October Companion:

  • 2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
  • 1 ounce GrandTen North County apple brandy
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce Grade A maple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Black walnut bitters


Dry shake (i.e., without ice) all ingredients except the bitters. Since you’ve got raw egg in there, shake it vigorously for at least a minute, maybe two. Add ice and shake again. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass. Add a few dashes of bitters to the frothy surface of the drink. If you’re the artsy type, do it in a shape of a leaf (as you’ll see below…I’m not the artsy type).

Tasting Notes

The crisp apple notes pair well with the sweet, complex flavors in the bourbon. The lemon adds a touch of acidity, and obviously the maple syrup gives it a little sweetness. The bitters really kick in at the end, once the froth of the egg white has subsided, so you get a nutty finish.

Last Drops

I was excited to finally use my GrandTen North County apple brandy. I remember my very first visit to the GrandTen distillery – Lonnie, GrandTen’s onetime brand ambassador, talked at length about the brandy, which had been aging for 2 years at that point and had at least one more year to go.

I got a bottle this past summer but didn’t want to open it until the fall. Worth the wait. GTD just released their second batch earlier this month.

If you saw this cocktail recipe on my Instagram page, please be aware that I modified it slightly. I originally used ¾ ounces of lemon juice, but I found that the tartness of the lemon was just a wee bit too much when combined with the apple brandy, which has a little tartness of its own.

I also bumped up the maple syrup. I thought the drink had the right amount of sweetness, but the maple flavor wasn’t as prominent as I wanted. Since maple’s pretty much a quintessential flavor of fall, I wanted it to stand out a bit.

I used bourbon in the recipe, but I think the spicy notes of a rye whiskey would give the cocktail a boost. I was low on rye when I tried it, but I’ll give it a whirl once I replenish the rye supply.


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