This sophisticated yet easy Apple Cider Old Fashioned requires no obscure ingredients or cocktail shaker, but will make you feel like a fancy bartender.

Apple cider old fashioned cocktails in two different glasses (1 tall, 1 short), on a tray with a whole apple.

Apple Cider Old Fashioned

It’s fall here in Michigan, which means one thing – apple season! Today, I’m sharing an apple cider version of my favorite cocktail – the old fashioned.

This apple cider bourbon cocktail recipe incorporates the classic elements of an old fashioned – bitters, orange peel and bourbon, but with a few unique twists.

Instead of the traditional sugar cube that’s usually muddled with the orange peel to add sweetness, I am using maple syrup to sweeten this apple cider old fashioned!

Most old fashioneds do not have any sort of “mixer” added to them – they are, essentially, bourbon over ice, with a little bit of sugar and bitters. While I love them the classic way, I will admit that sometimes, it’s a little strong for me.

So, topping this old fashioned off with apple cider makes it a little more of an easy drinking cocktail. 

Why you will love this Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

  • No cocktail shaker needed. Make as many or as few servings as you want, right in the glasses they’ll be served in.
  • No fancy ingredients needed, either. If you have a fairly stocked bar cabinet, an orange, and some apple cider, you’re all set.
  • Omit the bourbon for a great mocktail idea.
A tray of apple cider bourbon cocktails in various glasses, with a carafe of whiskey as well.

Ingredients for a Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail

  • orange peel – this contributes an essential citrusy aroma and complexity to the cocktail.
  • orange bitters – think of bitters as a type of seasoning for cocktails. They are used to balance sweetness from other ingredients and round out the flavor of a drink. 
  • maple syrup – I love how the flavor of the syrup pairs with the cider in this apple cider and bourbon cocktail and adds a touch more sweetness to balance the bourbon.
  • bourbon – while bourbon is typically preferred in old fashioneds, you can use regular whisky instead.
  • apple cider – it’s the star of the show, so make it a good local version if you can.
  • sliced apples, cinnamon sticks and/or cocktail cherries – these are optional, for garnish, to add visual appeal and subtle flavors to the drink.
A dozen or so red apples on a planked wooden table, shot from above.

The best bourbon for a Cider Bourbon Cocktail

Because there are so few ingredients in this apple cider old fashioned, it’s important to choose a good liquor.

I usually choose Bulleit bourbon (the classic orange label variety). It has a very clean and smooth flavor, and is versatile for just about anything you want to make with it.

Some other great choices for this cider bourbon cocktail are Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses

I like bourbon for this drink the most , but if I want something “spicier,” I’ll use a nice rye whiskey for an apple cider and whiskey cocktail.

Bourbon Apple Cider Cocktail substitutions

Brandy old fashioneds are very popular in the Midwest, particularly in Wisconsin.

Feel free to make this apple cider old fashioned using your favorite brandy instead of whiskey or bourbon

Bourbon apple cider drinks in two different glasses (1 tall, 1 short), on a tray with a whole apple.

How to make an Apple Cider Old Fashioned

  1. Grab a double old fashioned glass and place the orange peel, bitters and maple syrup in it.
  2. Use a muddler to gently press the orange peel to release its oils.
  3. Add the bourbon and the cider and stir until everything is combined.
  4. Fill the glass the rest of the way with ice and stir.
  5. Serve right away, garnished with apple slices, cinnamon sticks and cocktail cherries, if you want.

Can Apple Cider Bourbon be made in advance?

An old fashioned is typically prepared immeditely before serving, but if you wanted to prepare a big batch of this drink for a party, maybe a couple of hours in advance, I won’t stop you.

I would prepare the drink (in whatever quanitity you want) through the beginning of step 2.

Once you add the bourbon and cider, transfer the mixture to a large airtight container and refrigerate.

Then, just before serving, add ice to your glasses and pour the drink over the ice and garnish.

A fall cocktail in a small glass, garnished with an orange slice, cinnamon stick, and metal skewer with apple slices and cocktail cherries.

Home Chef Tips for Bourbon Apple Cider

  • Adjust the sweetness to your preference by adding more or less maple syrup, or omitting it entirely.
  • Experiment with different garnishes. Star anise adds a really special touch if you have it.
  • When muddling the orange peel, you’re looking to release the essential oils from the peel, but not completely crush it into oblivion. A quick, gentle muddle is plenty.

Making a Cider Bourbon Cocktail without alcohol

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic version, simply skip the bourbon. The bitters and muddled orange will still add plenty of complexity to this mocktail.

You can also add a splash of lemon juice to enhance it a bit more, if you wish. Or, you could try a non-alcoholic whiskey for this apple cider bourbon cocktail.

Apple cider old fashioned cocktails in two different glasses (1 tall, 1 short), on a tray with a whole apple.

Apple Cider Old Fashioned Cocktail

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This sophisticated yet easy Apple Cider Old Fashioned requires no obscure ingredients or cocktail shaker, but will make you feel like a fancy bartender.


  • 1 strip (about 1 inch wide) orange peel
  • 2 - 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  • Ice
  • Sliced apples, cinnamon sticks and/or cocktail cherries, for garnish (optional)


    1. Place orange peel, bitters and maple syrup in small glass and use muddler to gently release oils from orange peel.
    2. Add bourbon and cider; stir until well combined. Top glass with ice and serve immediately, garnished with apple slices, cinnamon sticks and/or cocktail cherries, if desired.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 5mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 15gProtein: 0g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. Nutrition information does not include any optional ingredients or toppings. You should calculate the nutrition information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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