Close up of a refreshing cocktail made with hard apple cider, lemon and bourbon
Beverages, Foodie book club

Hard apple cider and bourbon cocktail


Hard apple cider, bourbon and lemon fill this light and refreshing cocktail with crisp fall flavors. Warm earthy bourbon pairs surprisingly well with a crisp bubbly apple cider. The slightly sweet apple flavor is balanced with a slight squeeze of lemon. It’s cool, refreshing and flavorful.

Close up of a refreshing cocktail made with hard apple cider, lemon and bourbon
A bubbly yet warm cocktail for fall

I’m a light weight when it comes to cocktails. If I select a cocktail, I typically prefer the slightly sweet and citrusy types. My husband enjoys sipping on straight bourbon on ice. But straight whiskey for me, is simply too harsh. Hard apple cider is a drink I enjoy mostly during the summer months. It’s cold, crisp and light. I decided to give this simple drink a twist. The addition of bourbon and lemon was a pleasant surprise. Just right for my light-weight cocktail tastes. My husband gave it a thumbs up too. The recipe below is for one cocktail. Use the “jump to recipe” button above if you wish to skip to the recipe.

An over head shot of two hard apple cider with bourbon cocktails. The glasses are rimmed with sugar and garnished with lemon slices.
The perfect balance of sweet, sour, crisp and soothing flavors in this cocktail

Products used

  • Lake Chelan Heritage Cider ~ light, refreshing, crisp acidity. Made with 100% Washington apples.
  • Woodford Reserve Bourbon ~ American Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Lemons
  • This recipe is inspired by the book Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman. It is September’s pick for foodie book club. I selected a hard apple cider cocktail for a couple of reasons. First, I love hard apple cider and there are many wonderful local artisan brands in Washington. Washington state produces about 58% of all the apples grown in the United States.* Second, our heroine Eleanor habitually orders a drink called “Magnum.” She tries her first Magnum when she first goes to a pub with her new friend Raymond. Magnum is a hard apple cider. As the story unfolds, Eleanor treads into new social territory each time she ventures further out of her comfort zone. Frequent lunch and pub dates with Raymond represent pivotal moments for Eleanor. Their friendship blossoms and everything begins to change for her.

    Two hard apple cider with bourbon cocktails, close up with ice and lemon slices.
    Hard apple cider with bourbon is a great cocktail for fall

    Come for the recipe, stay for the book discussion:

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    The story takes place in modern day Glasgow, Scotland. I listened to the Audible version of this book and loved hearing the accents. Eleanor is an odd character. She is perceived by most people as awkward or strange. We get to know the depth of this character through vague distant memories that emerge. We discover more about why Eleanor struggles with people as we follow her through every-day situations, like getting a manicure or her hair cut. We begin to realize that Eleanor has experienced a great deal of pain and trauma as a child. Her mother is simply an awful human being. She appears to be in an institution or prison of some kind. We learn more about her through their weekly telephone calls. Eleanor dulls her pain with vodka and leads a lonely existence UNTIL she meets Raymond.

    The story evolves as Eleanor begins to let more people into her life. She blossoms. Raymond is a co-worker and dear friend. Eleanor has never known kindness or self-less love. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions where she’s dancing with a group of women at a birthday party for the first time. Or her first salon experience. These ordinary experiences are completely new to her. She experiences kindness and joy. She attends her first funeral of an elderly man whom she and Raymond helped get to hospital. She shops for a new outfit for the occasion. The author’s sly Monty Python reference “bring out your dead” was not missed by me and gave me a chuckle as I imagined Eleanor pleased with herself for getting ready for the sad occasion. She meets Raymond’s adorable mother and begins to see what it might have been like having an ordinary loving family. Through these normal every day interactions, she begins to enjoy being more social and her soul begins to heal.

    The end of this book has a twist I was not expecting. The only thing I knew for sure while reading this book and getting to know Eleanor was that she would indeed be completely fine. She had endured so much. She is a survivor. And she will continue to move forward.  I really wanted Raymond and her to grow closer. He could be a perfect loving partner for her. She begins to notice his endearing and genuine qualities as time goes on. This book ends pointing to a happy future for Eleanor. But I was left feeling like I wanted more. I wanted love for Eleanor. Perhaps there will be a sequel where this is explored.

    Book club questions

    **spoiler alert ~ do not read further if you do not want any spoilers.**

    Do you think Eleanor and Raymond will eventually get together romantically? I think Raymond loves Eleanor. What do you think? Love is risky business. Should they get together given Eleanor’s continued progress?

    Were you surprised by the ending in relation to her mother? There were hints throughout the story, particularly with the social worker that something was not quite right with her relationship with her mother. Do you think the foster care system failed Eleanor? Counselling helps Eleanor realize her self worth. Should the social workers and counselors helped her earlier in her life?

    Where do you think Eleanor learned to speak the way she does in such a formal old-fashioned manor? Was it perhaps from immersing herself in classic English novels such as Jane Eyre? Do you think Eleanor’s description of her mother’s travels and life was all imagination?

    Foodie book club

    Read Along

    I hope you enjoy reading Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel as much as I did. Join me next time by reading Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This is a story of survival, love and heartbreak. Kya is known as the “marsh girl.” She grows up abandoned in a literal shack in the coastal marshes bordering a small town in North Carolina. This story unfolds over two timelines. There is deceit, murder and hope woven in this story. Click here for the book club list and more inspired recipes.

    *apple statistic provided by The Washington Apple Commission

    Leave me a comment below about your thoughts and experiences with this recipe.

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    Hard apple cider and bourbon cocktail

    Recipe by Michelle BarsnessCourse: Beverages, Foodie book clubCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


    Prep time


    Cooking timeminutes

    Hard apple cider, bourbon and lemon fill this light and refreshing cocktail with crisp fall flavors. Warm earthy bourbon pairs surprisingly well with a crisp bubbly apple cider. The slightly sweet apple flavor is balanced with a slight squeeze of lemon. It’s cool, refreshing and flavorful.


    • 1/4 oz lemon juice

    • 2 tbsp sugar

    • ice (about 8 cubes)

    • 1 oz American Bourbon

    • 1/3 cup Crisp hard apple cider

    • lemon slices and wedge to rim the glass and for garnish


    • Use a classic old-fashioned high-ball glass. Rim the glass with lemon juice, then rim the glass with sugar.
    • Fill the glass with ice cubes (about 8 cubes).
    • Add 1 oz of Bourbon, 1/4 oz lemon juice and then 1/3 cup hard apple cider. Stir and serve immediately. Garnish with lemon slices.


    • Suggested products: A light, crisp hard apple cider is recommended, like Lake Chelan Heritage Apple Cider. This cider uses 100% Washington apples. I used Woodford Reserve Bourbon, a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Use fresh squeezed lemon juice.
    • Did you enjoy this hard apple cider with bourbon cocktail. I’d love to hear your experience with this recipe. Leave a comment at


    1. 5 stars
      This is such a great fall cocktail! I love that it uses bourbon. So perfect for this time of year.

    2. Lesli Schwartz

      5 stars
      Love everything but the bourbon! I just can acquire the taste, but maybe I could substitute it for rum?

    3. 5 stars
      I’m with you! I like fruity, sweet cocktails. Can’t wait to give this one a try! 🙂

    4. 5 stars
      Not only food makes October special, but all the delicious drinks you can and should make during the season, too. Just like this one. And thank you for sharing your novel recommendation – I have to check it out.


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