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Local Libations: American Cold Hard Toddy – a whiskey and cider dream

2011 December 2

By Brianna BainSan Diego, CA – It’s the week after Thanksgiving and the holiday spirit is alive. It is a time when I like to partake in seasonal treats through the use of spices and other nostalgic flavors that light my fond memories of years past. Pete’s Five Island Old Fashioned set me off on a trek to reinvent my father’s go-to evening libation. The barest whiff of this drink takes me back to being a little girl, anxiously waiting for my dad to finish so I could suck on the ice cubes pulled from the remnants of his whiskey and bitters.

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.

Holidays are all about memories and building new traditions. So this week I am building off a memory and possibly creating a new tradition if all goes well.

As my foundation ingredient I have chosen whiskey. One of my favorite spirits!  Michter’s rich history dates back to 1753. Known as the most richly flavored American Whiskey “ever tasted”, it is America’s first whiskey distilling company. Producing single barrel ryes, very small batch unblended American whiskey, very small batch bourbon, and single barrel bourbon. My favorite review of this whiskey comes from Dan Meltz:

“When I see Danny Glover down a shot of whiskey in Silverado, this is how I imagine it tastes.

When I see Clint Eastwood take a mighty pull off the kid’s bottle at the end of Unforgiven, this is how I imagine it tastes.

When I watch Eli Wallach drink a gulp in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, this is how I imagine it tastes.

This tastes like America, dammit!”

This was a whiskey I could not pass by. Sold. It is all that its reviews rave, smooth and complex – worthy of drink on the rocks!

To sweeten things up a bit and bring in an element of Holiday tradition I picked up a bottle of Julian Hard Cider. A cider I had yet to try but have heard much about. It is produced locally in San Diego county from the world famous apple orchards of Julian, CA. The Julian Hard Cider recipe originates from 1670 colonial America and is comparable to the finest British ciders. It is light, crisp, effervescent and slightly tart.

Combined with a few drops of concentrated spice – bitters, I thought I would really be onto something here. A sort of cold toddy based on the skeleton of my Father’s traditional whiskey, bitters and water.

The outcome – not as pleasing as I had conjured. The cider, while good alone did not bring the sweetness I was hoping for to this drink, so a last minute addition of a teaspoon of sugar took this drink from okay, to GOOD.

American Cold Hard Toddy

Yield: 1


  • 1-1/2 ounces whiskey
  • 4 ounces hard apple cider, or more to taste, depending on the cider’s sweetness
  • Few drops of traditional bitters (I used Angostura – not American but my family tradition)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Very thinly sliced apple wedge, for garnish
  • Squeeze of a lemon wedge (optional)


  1. Combine the ingredients in an ice-filled old-fashioned or rocks glass.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Enjoy

American Cold Hard Toddy