Down Easter Cocktail

The Down Easter cocktail is defined by Merriam-Webster as “one born or living down east.” We define it as this lovely apple cider-y cocktail.

Down Easter Cocktail. Just apple cider, bourbon, and citrus. Think of it as a whiskey sour’s older and richer uncle. [Editor’s Note: A word of advice: You may want to go ahead and make a double batch of the apple cider syrup, or an even higher multiple, right away just to have on hand. Because as our testers can attest, after just one sip, you’re going to fancy more than than this cocktail recipe makes. Trust us.]Renee Schettler Rossi

How The Name

Curious about how the name Down Easter Cocktail name came to be? So were we. So we did a little research. “Down Easter” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “one born or living down east.” Historically, it refers to a late 19th-century ship that ran between Boston and points north, including Maine. More colloquially, it means anyone from Maine. And apparently, it also means this lovely cool weather cocktail concocted from apple cider, bourbon, and citrus. [Editor’s Note: Actually, it makes for quite lovely sipping during any season. And not just in New England.]

Down Easter Cocktail

An overhead view of a down Easter cocktail, topped with a strip of orange zest.
The Down Easter cocktail is defined by Merriam-Webster as “one born or living down east.” We define it as this lovely apple cider-y cocktail.
Eric Prum and Josh Williams

Prep 5 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 45 mins
New England
2 servings
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the  cookbook

Want it? Click it.


  • Cocktail shaker


For the apple cider syrup

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 strip orange zest preferably organic

For the Down easter cocktail

  • 2 shots apple cider syrup
  • 3 shots (4 1/2 ounces) bourbon
  • 1 shot fresh lemon juice
  • Ice
  • 2 strips orange zest preferably organic, for garnish


Make the apple cider syrup

  • Add the apple cider and orange zest to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling until it’s reduced to 1/2 cup (4 ounces), which should take about 30 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and the heat of your flame. Strain, cover, and refrigerate until chilled through before using.

Make the Down Easter cocktail

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine the 3 ounces apple cider syrup, bourbon, and lemon juice. Add enough ice to rise above the liquid in the shaker and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into coupes or cocktail glasses of your choice and garnish with the orange zest.
Print RecipeBuy the  cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What can I say? I absolutely loved this Down Easter cocktail. It’s just perfect with notes of candied apple, a good dose of bourbon, and a hit of sharp lemon that prevents it from being too cloying. I highly suggest making double the quantity of the cider syrup because the amount called for is only enough for 2 drinks and you will want more of this baby.

The only problem with this Down Easter recipe (excuse me while I take a sip) is that the reduced apple cider only allows for 2 cocktails (another sip). The apple cider reduced easily and quickly, a single lemon gave me exactly the needed measurement, and a lovely old bourbon rounded the cocktail out perfectly. I served it in martini glasses with a large whiskey ice cube. The lemon does make the drink a bit tart. I think 2/3 lemon juice to 1/3 orange juice would make it just a touch smoother…however (sip…sip…), no one in this house is complaining. Except that there’s not enough for us to have another…and that makes us sad.

This Down Easter cocktail was fantastic. If you like a whiskey sour, you’ll like this. Think of it as a whiskey sour’s older and richer uncle. It took me about 25 minutes to boil the cider down, although next time I’ll do a larger amount. This makes a great martini but is also equally good on the rocks in a double old-fashioned glass.

Originally published October 30, 2016


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. Knew I was going to want more than two of these so attempted a variation with tasty results. You know that boiled cider syrup that you can get at King Arthur? Used that, with the bourbon, lemon, orange zest. Dee-lish. But now it is from Vermont, since that’s where the syrup comes from. Have to come up with a new name, perhaps?

  2. Actually, it’s someone who lives in Downeast Maine, which is east of the Penobscot River. I live in Freeport, which is not considered Downeast.

  3. 5 stars
    These things are delicious, but vewy, VEWY sneaky!! I took heed to previous comments and made a quadruple batch. Danger Will Robinson! DANGER! I do believe there’s a legitimate reason they made the original recipe as small as they did. Oh. And put your name on your glass. Just caught the brother-in- law sneaking a sip out of mine!!

  4. Born and raised in Central Maine and I’ve never heard of this wonderful cocktail. Now that I live (from away) in Australia, it’s tough to find fresh cider, especially in Spring. It’s on my Autumn try list. ayuh.

  5. “Down East” refers to not just Maine, but that part of Maine, which when traveling to, from the South requires one to go East and then South(down)- the most easterly northern part of the State, and of the United States. I use Boiled Cider that is made in Springfield VT, Good drink! Thanks.

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Rate this recipe!

Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

Upload a picture of your dish