Pigeon Hill Press Caramel Cider

Makes 1 drink

For the cardamom simple syrup:

¼ cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ tsp cardamom

For the drink:

2 parts spiced rum
1 part caramel flavored vodka
3 parts apple cider
½ tsp cardamom simple syrup
Splash of heavy cream

Cinnamon sugar (for the rim)


  • Make the cardamom simple syrup. Add the sugar, water, and cardamom to a small saucepan, bring to a light boil, then turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes, until slightly reduced. Set aside.
  • If desired, slightly wet the rim of your glass and roll it in the cinnamon sugar. Mix the rum, vodka, cider, and simple syrup in the glass and microwave for about 30 seconds, until warmed through but not too hot.
  • Add a splash of heavy cream and stir to combine.
  • Serve and be cozy!

Last week we posted our recipe for homemade apple sauce. We had been lucky enough to have the orchard behind our house give us permission to collect seconds to our hearts’ content. We had to stop ourselves from filling every square inch of the kitchen with apples. In addition to apples sauce, we made apple butter, apple muffins, apple turnovers, and bags of frozen apple slices that are ready for pie fillings at some future date. Even with all these tasty projects, we ended up with three large buckets of perfectly good apples.

Fortunately, Katja’s dad had been asking us to bring him some apples for use in his cider mill and press. He got the press from a gentleman he had once done carpentry work for in the 50s and 60s. The press had a lot of history – there is a picture of the original owners using it on a picnic in 1932 – and it intrigued Katja’s father enough that he asked to borrow it. After shuttling it back and forth a few times, the client gifted it to him and it has been in use most years for cider ever since.

We were planning a visit to Katja’s parents for their annual turkey kill (when family and friends come together to eat chili, enjoy good company, and slaughter and prepare turkeys they have raised for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner). Katja’s brother helped us haul out the ancient press and gave us a few pointers, and then we were off – milling, pressing, filtering, and pasteurizing our precious haul. The result was about two gallons of fresh apple cider and (finally) the end of our avalanche of apples.

Katja and I stood looking at our cider, each quietly calculating what to do next. After some brainstorming, we reserved some for drinking as-is, some for a hard cider project that Katja has been wanting to try, and some for a cider mixed drink that was kicking around in the back of my mind. Since my project was the easiest to start with, and since we felt we had earned ourselves a boozy treat, we headed out to pick up the necessary ingredients.

It gets much colder in Massachusetts than what I was accustomed to in California (obviously), so I wanted a warmed cider drink that had the right combination of sweetness and spice for those frigid evenings. Originally, I was thinking about rum and cinnamon spiced whiskey. However, there was some debate online as to whether the whiskey would be gluten free, so we decided on a caramel infused vodka instead. On the first go-round, we liked the flavors but felt the drink wasn’t quite as smooth as we had envisioned. A splash of heavy cream was just the fix, and the end product coats the throat and goes down smoothly. Now, when the day’s high temperature is in the low 30s and a cutting wind is blowing, we have a warm treat to keep us comfy. I get a kick out of the fact that it all comes from apples we picked and processed, though store-bought apple cider should work just as well. So kick back, stay warm, and happy Thanksgiving wishes from The Cabbage!

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