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Cheers! A cocktail using Michigan heirloom apples

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The La Manzana and its Michigan ingredients.

It’s fall. Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings has been thinking about apples – heirloom apples.

“We have tons of different kinds of apples in the store, right? But, there were hundreds and hundreds more than that that have been grown over the years," Coxen said. 

That's partly because today, apples are shipped far and wide, and not all heirlooms hold up.

“Many of them taste delicious, but fell out of favor because they didn’t travel well, or they didn’t look as pretty as consumers wanted, these perfectly round shiny apples,” Coxen explained.

She thinks some of them taste way better than today’s apples, and so Coxen has been on an heirloom apple hunt.

She knew about Christmas Cove Orchard north of Northport on the Leelanau peninsula and Sietsema Orchards near Grand Rapids, about 10 miles east of the Frederick Meijer Gardens. Recently, she found an orchard which grows heirloom apples closer to her home.

It’s Alber Orchard and Cider Mill, northeast of Manchester in southwest Washtenaw County. She picked up a few varieties.

“One of my favorites inspired me to make a cocktail,” Coxen said.

The Karmijn de Sonnaville apple was developed in the Netherlands in 1949 and started being made available commercially in the 1970s. It’s a cross between a classic apple first introduced in England in the early 19th century called the Cox’s Orange Pippin and a Jonathan apple.

“To me, it’s kind of like what a Granny Smith wishes is it could be,” Coxen said. She describes it as quite tart, more juicy than you’d expect, and with a “lovely” apple flavor.

Coxen thought it would taste good in a La Manzana, a tequila cocktail. She chose Cabresto Silver for the drink. (Here’s a story from Cheers! about the Detroit family which makes Cabresto tequila.)

In a moment of serendipity, a friend brought her a bottle of Michigan-made hard apple cider. The Bourbon Barrel Cider is from Northville Winery. Coxen thought the tart and dry European-style cider would be perfect for topping off the cocktail.

She noted that a different apple and a different cider would give you a totally different drink. So feel free to experiment!

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen muddling diced apple into a pulpy consistency.

La Manzana

1/4 apple, diced
1 1/2 oz silver tequila
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 dash Bitterman’s Xocolatl Mole bitters
2 oz hard cider
Garnish: Lemon twist, apple slice
Muddle apple until it’s pulpy. Combine all except cider in shaker with ice. Shake and double-strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Top with cider. Garnish.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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