Not all of the Southwest is desert lands. Depending on who you talk to, Colorado is also considered to be within this region and is full of some of the most spectacular mountains and valleys in the United States. A family-run farm and cidery, Big B’s Juices, Hard Ciders and Delicious Orchards is nestled in one of these small valleys, high in elevation of the Rocky Mountains. Their cold nights and warm days make for great organic apple growing and resulting ciders. The Montmorency cherry-infused Cherry Daze is lightly carbonated with a tart finish, tasty on its own but also delicious as a cocktail addition.
In Colorado, if a mountain peak has an elevation of 14,000 feet or more, it is nicknamed a “14er” and Colorado has the most 14ers in the country. This spirit-forward cocktail combines the sharp note of rye with smoky mezcal and a balancing sweet hit of house-made Cherry Cider Syrup. Stirred and finished with Aztec chocolate bitters, this is the perfect Southwest-inspired drink to sip over a big ice cube on a chilly night.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 ounce rye whiskey
1 ounce mezcal
¼-1/3 ounce Cherry Cider Syrup (recipe follows)
Dash of Aztec chocolate bitters
Garnish: wide orange peel and Amarena cherry
Measure the rye whiskey, mezcal, Cherry Cider Syrup and bitters into a mixing glass. Fill three-quarters full with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until well chilled. Strain over a big ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Express the orange peel over the drink to release the oils, then twist and add to drink. Garnish with a cherry on a skewer.
Cherry Cider Syrup
Makes 6 ounces
1 can (12 ounces) Big B’s Cherry Daze Hard Cider
½ cup sugar
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and stir to combine. On medium-high heat, bring liquid to a boil. Continue boiling and watching carefully until reduced to about ½ cup and a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and cool. Store refrigerated in a jar for up to 30 days.