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Acadia’s Mersey Jersey, a toddy-spiced cider laced with rich apple butter and a cooling glug of absinthe

Acadia’s Mersey Jersey

Serves 4

Bartender Beau Burtnick claims the lemony-sweet spot between spiced cider and a hot toddy with this bright apple brandy sipper, rich with apple butter and laced with herbal absinthe. The strong, sinus-clearing quaff is so soothing, it’s practically medicinal. You’ll find the cocktail at Acadia all winter long, but its creator now runs the bar at Superbite and Kask—if you ask him nicely, you might score the off-menu drink there, too.

  • 6 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy
  • 3 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz Pimm’s
  • 2 oz simple syrup, plus more to taste
  • ¼ cup apple butter (homemade* or store-bought)
  • 2 oz absinthe (Burtnick recommends St. George.)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Apple slices and cloves for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a large glass pitcher or bowl. Add 2½–3 cups of very hot water and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into four brandy snifters or handled glass mugs. Garnish each with an apple slice studded with a few cloves.

*Acadia Apple Butter

Makes about 2 cups

Quarter and slice 6 lbs Granny Smith or other tart apples. In a large saucepan combine apples (cores, seeds, and all) and 2½ cups apple cider over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until tender. Press the apples through a mesh strainer or sieve (removing skins and seeds) into a large bowl. Return apple mixture to the saucepan and add 2 cups light brown sugar, 2 strips of lemon zest, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp ground allspice, ½ tsp ground clove, and ½ tsp salt. Cook the mixture over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2½ to 3 hours, or until very thick. Discard the lemon zest and cinnamon stick, and transfer the mixture to a container to cool. Apple butter will keep 3–4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Xico’s Habanero-Caramel Drinking Chocolate with Mezcal

Serves 4–6

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A festive mug of cocoa is always good. But at Xico, the chile-whispering drinking chocolate, made with local Woodblock chocolate swirled with rich house caramel, fruity habanero chile, and smoky mezcal, is an entirely new holiday unto itself. Each silky, bittersweet sip prickles and smolders with chile warmth and the agave spirit’s irresistible wood smoke finish—the perfect thing to whip up in your home blender on a blustery night. Good news, teetotalers: It tastes just as delicious, only less campfire-y, without the booze.

  • 6 oz dark chocolate, chopped (Xico recommends a combination of Valrhona “Guanja” and Woodblock Madagascar.)
  • 1¾ cups boiling water
  • ½ habanero chile, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground Mexican cinnamon
  • 1 cup dark caramel (homemade* or store-bought—try Alma’s Salted Caramel Sauce)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp heavy cream (plus more, whipped, for topping drinks if desired)
  • 6 oz joven mezcal (Xico recommends Mezcal Amarás)

Combine all three chocolates and boiling water in the blender and let melt for 5 minutes. Add habanero, cinnamon, caramel, and salt. Blend until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add whipping cream and blend again until smooth, 5–10 seconds more. Add mezcal and stir to blend (or serve in shots to sip it alongside the drinking chocolate). Pour into handled mugs; top with whipped cream if desired.

*Xico’s Dark Caramel

Combine ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the sugar melts and turns a dark amber color. Take pan off heat and very carefully whisk in ¼ cup heavy cream, ½ stick unsalted butter, ¼ tsp vanilla and a pinch of salt. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Covered, the caramel will keep for 10 days in the fridge.

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