It was no more than a mere two weeks ago when the phenomenon known as the Polar Vortex became another weather thing that Americans had to accept despite its implication that an icy sinkhole was about to swallow North America over a 36 hour period. Weathermen predicted that the country would resemble the inside of Snow Miser’s lair and city dwellers began to brace for cold air like never before. Yesterday, New York turned into an urban snow globe then braced itself overnight for the Polar Vortex part deux. For me, cold is cold. I would take a foot of snow over a heat wave any day of the year. As a seasoned east coaster, I embrace the rituals of the winter weather. And while many warm their bellies with familiar soups and stews, my appetite finds optimal hibernation with a warm and comforting cocktail to shield me from the chilly air.
For years I have defaulted to making hot toddies for their strong bite against a bitter cold. But as the countdown to the vortex ticked, I needed to not only be warmed up, but soothed and so came the craving for a buttered apple cider. Buttered cider is a sweeter, softer option whose buttery texture gently glosses the palate. The taste can be easily improvised as a variety of spices can be incorporated for a more adventurous flavor. Below is a basic recipe made with Four Roses yellow label bourbon that I will certainly be using again and again this winter and for future vortexes to come.
Buttered Bourbon Cider
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons honey
1 star anise
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup bourbon
Fresh lemon juice
In a saucepan, combine apple cider, water, honey and star anise to simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let stand about 8 minutes.
Add butter to the mixture and simmer again over low heat until the butter melts, stirring a few times to blend.
Once blended in, turn off heat. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and add bourbon. Stir to combine.
Allow 2-3 minutes to steep. Pour into heatproof glasses and serve.
Note: you can keep a batch covered in the fridge for up to two days after making… just reheat and drink!