Quench Your Thanksgiving Thirst with the Apple Cider Whiskey Smash

The holidays are approaching at lightning speeds, and there’s nothing we can do about it. For some of us, this is exciting. For others, it is stressful and tedious. No matter how you feel about family and get-togethers, there’s no better way to upgrade your holiday experience than with a warm, comforting sip of an apple cider whiskey smash

As a long-time lover of fall, I’m a huge fan of any normal beverage that’s twisted to become autumn-adjacent. This delightfully spiced beverage is the cocktail to cure your crisp cravings. The solution to soothe your sweet tooth. The Thanksgiving thrill to thin out your thirst. 

I can’t think of any other way to gas this great cocktail up, so let’s break down this article by subject (so you can skim it if you’re in a hurry because your aunt is coming for Thanksgiving and you simply cannot be sober for another one of her rants about ‘today’s generation’. Looking at you, Aunt Laura): You’re gonna learn about the brief history, how to prepare the delightful apple cider whiskey smash (and what tools to use), and top-tier serving tips to satiate even the grumpiest Thanksgiving guest. 

Let’s get to the stuffing, shall we? (That was a stretch. I’m sorry.)

Where Did the Smash-style Cocktail Get Its Start?

Cocktails are a lot like humans: each one is unique, molded by time, and filled with fluid. The apple cider whiskey smash is no different - it started as something completely different, and has evolved over time!

While this is a Thanksgiving-themed blog, I’m not going to get into the history of Thanksgiving because a) I think we all know it, b) I think we all know how awful the whole thing actually was, and c) it is a huge bummer. 

So let’s go over the history of the smash cocktail instead!

The concept of a ‘Smash’ beverage was first recorded in an 1887 recipe book, “The Bartenders Guide”, by Jerry Thomas. 

This recipe detailed how to make the original Whiskey Smash, the fruity neighbor to the Mint Julep. However, one can only assume that fruit and whiskey have been partners in alcoholic crime for far longer than that, because people have been making juleps and whiskey sours since the 1700s. 

Smashes made the rounds for decades, but eventually hit their stride in the 1980s because of legendary bartender Dale DeGroff.

DeGroff worked at the Rainbow Room in New York in the late 1980s, and added whiskey smashes to the menu. His version included bourbon, muddled lemon wedges, and mint, which became extremely popular and brought the whiskey sour into stardom. 

DeGroff claimed it became popular because it’s “the perfect cocktail for those who say they’ll never drink whiskey”. 

He claims the citrus-and-mint combo is a great way to mask some of the intensity that whiskey brings. It’s also popular due to its flexibility - using whiskey, bourbon or rye are all appropriate, and changing the fruit you use is completely fine as well. 

Assumedly, those looking for more of a fall-style twist adapted it to be the spicy delight we know today as the apple cider whiskey smash

Recipe Time: The Apple Cider Whiskey Smash

We’ve finally made it to the core of this article. Heheh. Get it? Like an apple core? Alright, I won’t waste any more of your time. Here we go! 

Apple Cider Whiskey Smash Ingredients:

  • 1 oz whiskey (your choice brand-wise - the more spiced, the better!)
  • 1 ½ oz lemon juice
  • 4 oz apple cider
  • (optional) ½ oz cinnamon simple syrup or a cinnamon stick
  • (optional) 3-4 mint leaves

    After you’ve got all of your ingredients together, you’ll need a cocktail shaker. Actually, if you’re throwing a Thanksgiving bash, you might want to check out our amazing bartending kits - they’re absolutely perfect to match any fall aesthetic. Plus, having one automatically makes you a cocktail pro. You can impress your family, friends, and family friends! 

    Make the Apple Cider Whiskey Smash in 3 Easy Steps:

    1. Put some ice into your cocktail shaker.
    2. Add the whiskey, lemon juice, apple cider, and (if you want), the cinnamon simple syrup.
    3. Shake until it’s nice and chilly, and serve in a suave whiskey glass (we have nice ones right here).

    If you’re really looking to impress your guests, add some mint leaves and a cinnamon stick. That’ll get everyone razzed up. And drunk. Woohoo!

    Can I Use Any Substitutions?

    ABSOLUTELY! If the history of the smash has told us anything, it’s that a smash can be whatever you want it to be - the only thing you’ll probably need to keep to make it an apple cider whiskey smash is the apple cider. 

    If you’re not big into whiskey, no sweat. Bourbon is also super delicious with apple cider. Not shockingly, it also goes well with just straight apples, so feel free to put a couple slices in there if you’re feeling creative.

    Thanksgiving Party Ideas

    It’s kind of hard to totally turn up during Thanksgiving, being as how it’s usually a family affair and all. But, there are ways to make it classy and fun! 

    • Make it outdoors to be covid-safe and enjoy the weather. Fall is the most beautiful season. Don’t fight me on it. Why not make your Thanksgiving a backyard campfire party? The smoky aromas pair well with our apple cider whiskey smash, and overall emit warm and cozy vibes.
    • Add some festive fall arrangements. We’ve all seen the classic cornucopia, but you can actually get way more creative with it! Apples, pumpkins, cinnamon, and other fruits can make excellent fall decorations - not to mention leaves, real or fake. Try to keep with a classic color scheme of oranges, yellows, and reds for the perfect fall vibe.
    • If you’re not into Thanksgiving, turn it into a Harvest Party! Not everyone is about Thanksgiving, which is totally fair! But, you can still celebrate together! Make it into a harvest party by having each guest bring something special - that way you can celebrate and learn about everyone’s different tastes. 

    What Food Goes with the Apple Cider Whiskey Smash?

    Thank you for asking, because now I get to talk about my favorite foods of all time. Thanksgiving foods pair excellently with the apple cider whiskey smash! I’m talking any and all, baby: I’m talking apple pie. I’m talking squash soup. I’m talking turkey with gravy. I’m talking sweet potatoes with marshmallows. And of course, any and all pumpkin-centric dishes

    Learn more about our fantastic covid-safe fall appetizers here!

    Final Thoughts

    Overall, spiced whiskey and apple cider are palate cleansers, and cut right through fat. It’s a counterpoint to sweet foods, and tastes great with turkey, pork, cheese, pies, spicy food, and almost any pasta dish. 

    Turkey time is around the corner, and you better be prepped. If you want to throw the best Thanksgiving get together (possibly of all time), try our website for more classy bartender kits, whiskey sets, glassware, and cocktail recipe guides

    Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor