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Local Libations: The Last Harvest

2010 December 10

by Kat Durant
photos by Brianna Bain

Sarah’s Holiday Borscht – a hearty “does the body good” soup using food as the best kind of medicine – put me on a path of creating a cocktail that could also boast healthful characteristics. I was thinking of something that contained immune supporting vitamins and antioxidants to help carry you through the Holiday madness in style.  I thought that apple cider, a traditional holiday treat, would fit the bill.  Initially, I leaned toward creating an apple cider cocktail with some warm spices and a touch of bourbon. Not so immune boosting and BORING; it has been done so many times before. I called up Brianna to get the creative juices flowing. She quickly came to the rescue with a trip to her Dad’s backyard orchard where she was able to pick up a rich early winter harvest of lemons, sweet tangerines and the last harvest of a very confused Anna apple tree.

Brianna’s Dad lives in a micro climate of San Diego county that gives the 135 hours of frost necessary for apple trees to produce fruit but also has an unusually long fruit producing season. This apple tree had already produced a hearty bounty earlier in the year and was now attempting a second harvest. Evenings  in this area are beginning to reach temperature in the 40’s giving the tree the signal to start its transition into a dormant phase while also experiencing warmer desert temperatures during the day. All this equals a very confused tree with small sweet apples, one blossom and a mix of brown leaves ready to fall.

This drink is a shout out to the peeps on the East  coast who are experiencing their last harvest before they go into dormant phase and to the little confused tree giving its all – we present to you the Last Harvest.  It’s crisp and light, sweet on the outside and tart on the inside. Much like a candied apple, it keeps you wanting more of its sweet and sour blend.  I caught Brianna licking the glass clean so it must be great!

The Last Harvest

Prep time: 1 hour, if you are making and chilling the apple cider (click here for instructions). 5 minutes if you are using cider prepared ahead of time.

Yield: 1 serving

Tools: zester, shot glass, shaker, martini glass


  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 2 oz. apple cider
  • several drops lemon juice
  • tangerine zest
  • agave syrup for garnish (honey will work, too!)

Cooking Directions

  1. Drizzle agave nectar into a martini glass and put it in the freezer while preparing the cocktail to solidify the agave.
  2. Fill a shaker with ice
  3. Add the Canton liqueur, vodka and apple cider
  4. Press a few drops of lemon juice into the shaker
  5. Shake and pour into the frozen agave lined glass
  6. Garnish with tangerine zest
  7. Sip slowly and relish in the last harvest while enjoying the fragrant aromas of apples, lemons and tangerines!


Note: The taste of this drink really depends on the type of apple.  We used Ana apples which are sweet and soft great for apple pie making. When you are choosing your apples you may want a crisper, lighter apple. Keep in mind the agave combined with a really sweet cider can tip this drink over into the realm of being a little too sweet.