Craft Cocktail: Ludington Snuggler

When I was a kid, we went to Apple Charlie’s to pick apples, voraciously tear through cider donuts, and drink warm cider. My brothers, sister, and I would also stare with amazement (year after year) at the cider press. We also picked apples that my Mom would bake, make into pies, and slice into our oatmeal and lunch baggies for the next couple of weeks. It just seemed like one of those routines I just could not over do.

Likewise, at college football games, I remember when I first enjoyed the warm sips of cider and Jim Beam delivered to me as a nineteen-year-old out of a boda bag that had been smuggled in under the armpit of one of my older (by at least six months to a year) and wiser fraternity brothers. It just felt and tasted so rich and great . . . and, a little dangerous.

I loved it.

Fast forward to last week to my vacation when Emily and I had toured Ludington, taking in the sights on a cold, gusty, grey day – having a ton of fun and celebrating our life together. We decided to head to a dinner place that had come highly recommended by our B&B hostess and boasted a great deal of promise from its online menu. One of the items that caught out attention was a drink they called the Warm Woodford Cider.

When we got to the restaurant, all looked good. There was a bourbon tasting that included some on my faves and a robust atmosphere filled with conversation and fun.

The only problem – something was missing form the menu. No Warm Woodford Cider, hmmm.

Emily asked the server if we had missed the cocktail – maybe it was part of a seasonal offering that occurred prior to this evening out for us? Nope, the restaurant had changed management and the drink was out with the old. This would have stopped the deal for most but, we were chilled to the bone from our adventure and just had this idea in our head that this is something we wanted. I mean, what’s the harm in asking if they have some cider around, right?

As luck would have it – they did. And though the mixologist shared that she did not know the recipe for the Warm Woodford Cider she agreed to give it her best shot.

Within minutes we had been sent a drink to taste along with a request for feedback. Awesome.

The one we had with dessert was even better.

Local cider, bourbon, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and carmels

At home we call this the Ludington Snuggler.

Here’s our version: cider, bourbon, cloves, cinnamon stick, optional carmel. Simmer cider, cloves, and cinnamon for about five minutes. Place carmel and bourbon in mug. Pour hot cider through strainer and into the mug. Stir.

Enjoy!

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Grilled Pork Chops, Apple Cabbage Slaw, Roasted Butternut Squash

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Last night, prior to today’s brief snow flurry, I spent some time on the balcony grilling a couple thick-cut pork chops. After waiting about an hour at the butcher to get these babies, the question seems obvious – were they worth the wait?

Yep.

The chops are accompanied by a simple raw apple and cabbage slaw and even simpler roasted butternut squash. The meal was terrific. Here’s how it goes:

Chops – sea salt, pepper, and olive oil on both sides. Grilled over direct heat for 5 minutes per side and rested for 5 minutes.

Slaw – matchstick fresh fall apples mixed with cabbage and dressed with dressing of equal parts veg oil and apple cider vinegar, half part of honey and salt and pepper to taste. Shake, dress lightly, mix with hands, and refrigerate.

Squash – peel, cube (1/2 to 3/4 inch), toss in olive oil salt and pepper, spread in a single layer on baking sheet and roast at 350 for 25-35 minutes.

Fall Favorites Teaser

Emily and I just spent time in northwest Michigan, reclaiming the lost falls of the last few years. The colors were amazing, our B&B – simply cozy, and our adventures unforgettable.

On our way home we picked up huge pumpkins to carve and toured Virtue Ciders and Three Floyd’s Brewery. And, to boot, we took one of the last trips to the Green City Market. All of which inspired me to get back to giving you what you want – more time in the kitchen, behind a camera lens, and at the keyboard, sharing it all.

And, since I have already taken some of the pictures, I can honestly say I will be delivering some great content to you this week.

Here’s what I think you need to know – the crisp air of fall that is filling my lungs these days makes me hanker for a house filled with the rich aromas of soup, the unctuous flavors of earthy pasta sauces, and the frost bitten finger tips that accompany grilling on my balcony.

To satisfy everyone’s souls, now is also the season of pumpkin beers, casked brews you can’t see through, and brown liquor cocktails. For fun I have also prepared a few traditional warm drinks from my childhood. As you may expect, where my folks responsibly forewent the addition of “spirited” ingredients – I did not.

Stay tuned, I’m back and fall goodness is on its way!