Read these tips before serving!
Hollowing out an apple is easier than it looks.
Eve’s Answer is a cocktail I created many years ago and one that I still love to shake up for friends today. A version of this drink took top honors when I competed against 15 countries at an international margarita competition held in Jalisco, Mexico, in 2011. It’s a great example of twisting a classic cocktail—in this case, the margarita—to pair perfectly with the season. This drink stays true to the bones of the iconic margarita with tequila as the foundation, flanked by citrus and a touch of sweetener for balance.
On the surface, Eve’s Answer and the margarita share quite a bit in common with the classic daiquiri. Taking a nod from the local farmer’s market, I gravitated toward what is abundant at the moment: orchard fruit. I encourage you to skip the grocery store and pop by your weekend market to see what’s available and in season. You may be surprised to find four or five single varietal apple or pear ciders, each with its own unique profile (and sans preservatives). Buy a couple and freeze what you don’t use for later in the season.
“Eve’s Answer is a great example of twisting a classic cocktail—the margarita—to pair perfectly with the season.”
I chose a reposado tequila (translating to “restful”) as the base. This designation guarantees the spirit has been aged in wood between 60 and 364 days; after a year, it earns the label of “anejo.” The best producers will utilize modest-sized barrels, many of which formerly held American whiskey. The tequila will evolve from greener flavors to warmer, richer tones. Vanilla, honey, caramel, mild tannin, dried fruit, tobacco, cocoa, and more may be present after spending time in wood.
Always look for the words “100% agave” on the label. It’s not a total guarantee of quality, but it tells you that all of the tequila is distilled only from agave. It’s a good start and you’ll avoid lower-quality “mixto” varieties that are probably responsible for some nights you’d rather forget. There’s an actual regulatory commission, the Consejo Regulador del Tequila, that closely oversees all production and labeling in the five states of Mexico where tequila is produced.
From our margarita inspiration, reposado tequila as the base, and cider, you may see the path that led to the complementary flavors I’ve added to Eve’s Answer. Baking spices that become prevalent in the cooler months show up in the raisin syrup and flavored ice. This variation can get you through until spring starts to peek its head out. As with all recipes, don’t feel pressured to follow this one exactly. If you don’t have a particular spice at hand, feel free to substitute or omit. Cherry juice instead of cranberry in the ice—why not? Decent tequila, fresh citrus juice, and balancing to your taste are the only non-negotiables in my book.
There are two distinctly different types of cinnamon available in most grocery stores in the United States. The more common one is cassia cinnamon, which you might recognize as the rock-hard sticks many of us grew up with. While they work well for scraping on top a drink or over apple pie, I find the flavor and aroma a bit dull and dusty. Poke around and look for ceylon (sometimes labeled as “true”) cinnamon. You’ll immediately notice the softer, flaky texture of these sticks. When you grate them, the aroma is bright and lively (reminiscent of Red Hots and other candies). The difference is pretty remarkable. At the very least, stay away from pre-ground spices whenever possible. They are almost always muted and flat, plus the powdery texture is off-putting in a cocktail.
Cranberry Ice Tips
You can make flavored ice out of any liquid—it’s a great way to avoid waste in the kitchen and bar and can really elevate your cocktails. Traditional ice dilutes and washes out your cocktail as it melts, and flavored ice evolves the cocktail as it melts and introduces more complementary flavors. Taste your “ice stock” before you freeze it and ask yourself if it will work with whatever cocktail you’re working on. For example, the cranberry for Eve’s Answer will vary wildly depending on brand. Depending on the sugar and alcohol content of the ice (if any), you can experiment with final recipes to get a more solid cube. Adding a bit of water to dilute the mixture can help with this. It will also help prevent the flavored ice from taking over the cocktail its keeping cool.
Hollowed Apple Cup Tips
I love using apples for the serving vessel of this cocktail whenever possible. Choose the largest apples you can find that will sit on their base evenly. I prefer green varieties like Granny Smith, as they seem to oxidize more slowly and have better texture. Slice the top of the apple off and place it into bowl of water mixed with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. You can scoop the insides using a variety of techniques. I like to score a circle around the top of the apple with a knife and carefully scoop it out with a small spoon (a melon baller also works). Be careful not to pierce the walls or bottom of the fruit and to leave enough around the edges so you have a solid cup. Place the entire apple in the lemon-water mixture to help preserve the color.