When it comes to mixing classic fall cocktails, chef Michael Rostafin of Ca Va (310 West 44th Street; 212-803-4545) looks for one particular ingredient when making himself a drink. “I love apples. I love apple season. You don’t get to do too much savory cooking with apples,” Rostafin tells the Voice. And after a trip to Hurds Family Farm in the Hudson Valley, Rostafin discovered an apple cider that he knew would make a great ingredient for a hot toddy to include on the bar menu. However, the best part about the hot toddy — or Hot ToddE, as it’s known around Todd English’s place — is that because the apples change taste during the season, so does the cider, and therefore the drink. Apples tend to taste tart in the early part of harvest season and get sweeter as the season goes on, which means that although the recipe stays the same, guests can experience a different type of hot toddy depending on when they visit.
“There’s so many apples that have so many differences,” says Rostafin, listing varieties you may not have heard of: cortland, empire, jonagolds. After acquiring the cider, Rostafin infuses ingredients like — you guessed it — seasonal apples, among other ingredients, to give it a unique taste. However, equally important in enjoying and experiencing fall (and certainly a proper drink) is the heat brought on by alcohol, particularly the dark spiced rum. After being inspired by an old-fashioned made with aged rum, Rostafin decided to use that spirit instead of bourbon when preparing his drink. “Using the spiced version of it helps accentuate all of the spices you’re putting in the cider,” he notes.
Why is the hot toddy a perfect fall beverage for New Yorkers? Rostafin has the answer: “This is a local cocktail, farm-to-table.”
3 to 4 ounces hot apple cider
1 1/2 ounces of Kraken dark spiced rum
1/2 ounce of lemon juice
Fresh whipped cream
Dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
Pour apple cider into a teakettle and let sit over low heat for a few minutes until warm. Pour cider into a heat-proof glass or mug and add rum and lemon juice. Stir. Top off with a scoop of whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon and drizzle the honey on top.