The Vanilla-Hibiscus Apple Orchard 

V Bar

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

The Vanilla-Hibiscus Apple Orchard

Glassware: Old-Fashioned/rocks glass

Tools: shaker, mandoline, butane torch or lighter, 6-inch wooden skewer

For spiced vanilla-hibiscus apple Demerara syrup:

1/4 c. dried hibiscus flowers (found at Hispanic grocery stores; or any spiced hibiscus tea will work, using 6 or 7 tea bags)

11/2 c. Demerara sugar

11/2 c. water

2 Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans (slice open and scrape out the vanilla beans, but leave both beans and pods in the mix)

1 Granny Smith apple (sliced or diced)

4 cinnamon sticks

For cocktail:

1½ oz. Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey (Stranahan's is a great local choice, or you can use your personal favorite)

½ oz. Benedictine (a French spiced liquor)

1 oz. spiced vanilla-hibiscus apple Demerara syrup

2½ oz. Big B's Organic Cold Pressed Apple Juice (a great Colorado Product; Simply Apple Apple Juice is next-best option)

1 Granny Smith apple for garnish

1 sprig of rosemary for garnish

1 cinnamon stick for garnish

For spiced vanilla-hibiscus apple Demerara syrup:

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Let cool, then strain out all other ingredients as you transfer the syrup to an airtight container; chill. (Syrup can be made one week ahead. Keep chilled.)

click to enlarge vbar1-2-ba24888cac7e313a.jpg

For cocktail:

Combine your bourbon, Benedictine, syrup and apple juice in a shaker and dry shake (without ice), then strain into an Old-Fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish by taking 1/4 wedge of a Granny Smith apple and thinly slicing it, using a mandoline. Then skewer and fan them out. Toss in your fresh sprig of rosemary and lastly, use a lighter or torch to fire up one end of your cinnamon stick until it holds a flame. Blow that out and lay on top of the fanned-out apple slices. Serve immediately, while it's smoking.


I am a firm believer that there should be a beginning, a middle and an end to every cocktail. I also look at every ingredient as a character in a story. As you experience each ingredient, you will see how each one adds to the others and develops a storyline that takes you from the beginning to the end, where it all comes together.

This cocktail was built intentionally to have the aromatics of a smoking cinnamon stick hit your nose before you even have the drink in your hand. It's an intriguing scent that is balanced out with the fresh herbal scent of rosemary as you raise the glass to your mouth for your first sip. The first sip hits your mouth with the sweet, buttery spice of your hibiscus syrup and Benedictine, which is accompanied by this very crisp and clean apple flavor. Following the sweet and spice, you'll find delicious lingering flavors of cinnamon and vanilla that accompany the bold, yet subtle bourbon flavors that round out this perfect fall cocktail.

If you enjoy this and have any questions about cocktails you've created, follow me on Instagram @themixologistpsychologist, or drop by V Bar and let's talk. Collaborating is the best way to create something amazing, and I believe I can change your perceptions and the way you think about alcohol. If you don't like something, it's because it hasn't been mixed right. Let me show you how I plan to convert the world away from rum-and-Cokes and vodka Red Bulls, one cocktail at a time.

— Submitted by Mixologist Adam Gasper


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