Festive drink makes winter warmer, over ice

Dave Faries

It starts with a pour of Crown Royal Regal Apple Whisky. It is finished off with a splash of Sprite. In between, The 581 bartender Melodye Wallace drapes the ice with cranberry juice.

Yes, there is ice. This is not a cocktail one might normally turn to on a frosty January evening. But there’s something about the combination that suggests autumn on the verge of winter, with the fruits of harvest and a flickering hearth waiting inside, offering the promise of warm pie and steaming mulled cider.

Wallace calls it the Cran-Apple, but doesn’t claim it as an original creation. She simply tweaked a cocktail she learned while bartending in Kansas City to her tastes.

It is cozy, like an apple pie. The sip is cheery and sweet, deepened by hints of candied fruit and baking spices. It’s a sensation that resonates throughout, wavering between Granny Smith compote and dried cherry, with hints of cinnamon toast. Lurking in the background, however, are notions of wood smoke and bittersweet cranberry.

Despite all of this, the cocktail seems eager to spring from the glass.

“The Sprite pops,” Wallace said. “It’s festive.”

Indeed, the Cran-Apple served at The 581 in Mexico is an enjoyable drink – easy to sip, but not leaving you wanting for flavor. And it all comes from three simple ingredients, no fancy mixology needed.

The only thing missing is the burn of whiskey. Crown Royal’s apple is gentle to start with, and the juice and soft drink further masks the spirit.

So Wallace urges caution.

“You can’t taste the whiskey, which makes it a little dangerous,” she said. “That’s why you stick with a single.”


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