By Julia Ritz Toffoli
A couple of weeks ago I was up in the Hudson Valley with a group of friends to celebrate a birthday and visit the Tuthilltown Distillery, where Hudson Whiskey, among others, is produced. Now, I’m from Massachusetts, so I’m well familiar with fall foliage, and the gorgeous explosions of color that graces New England during autumn. I have years of childhood memories of sweet, pillowy apple cider donuts, and I grew up thinking it was perfect normal to climb up precarious ladders to spend half an afternoon picking apples off trees, and then paying $25 for the privilege of bringing home a bushel’s worth of your own manual labor. This was all routine to me.
While I appreciate the autumnal wonderland that takes over New England in the fall, I’m not as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about it as a lot of tourists who travel from far and wide to see the leaves change.
But you guys—this weekend was fall!
Maybe I had become a little bit fall-jaded over the years, and all I needed was a whole weekend fully immersed in the Hudson Valley—gorging myself on, yes, apple cider donuts, everything pumpkin (basic be damned), and of course, lots of whiskey—to become reacquainted with the technicolor display that nature puts on for us every year. Whatever it was, it worked.
We took the whole New England Fall thing to its extreme, infusing the entire weekend with its essence. We kicked our way through damp leaf piles in the woods, visited antique shops and flea markets, and bought way too many pumpkins, apples, and donuts at the neighborhood farm stand.
Yet after stocking up on all kinds of Hudson Ryes, Bourbons, and even barrel-aged maple syrup at the distillery, I turned to an old friend to make the Fall #AF Punch that we mixed up for the birthday party: Canadian Club.
Canadian Club was my gateway whiskey. I started drinking it when I lived in Canada for university, and I’ve had a soft spot for it—and rye—ever since. Its blend of rye, rye malt, and barley gives it a distinctive taste that’s smooth, but not underwhelming. It holds up to being mixed, but doesn’t overpower the other flavors.
At first glance, this just seems like a cold version of hot spiked cider. But the sparkling wine and lemon juice give it a bit of a kick, and once it mellows all together, it’s much more multi-dimensional than your average hot cider. And it packs a bit of a punch (depending on how much whisky you add). Enjoy responsibly, with friends, preferably while sitting on a pile of orange leaves.
Fall Punch Ingredients
6 cups apple cider
1 bottle of sparkling wine
2 cup of orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
½ cup lemon juice
1 apple, sliced
Canadian Club or other rye whisk(e)y to taste
¼ tsp each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
Combine cider, sparkling wine, orange juice, lemon juice, spices, and whiskey in a large lunch bowl. Stir and let sit 20-30 minutes. While punch is resting, slice an apple into rounds. Float the apple rounds in the punch bowl. Serve over ice.