It’s that time of year again – time for seasonal cocktail menu changes. When I start creating the next cocktail menu, I always focus first on using ingredients that are local (if possible) or at least in-season a that time of the year. But every time, I struggle with this question: What’s the best way to get these seasonal flavors into the cocktails?

This week we’re using three different methods to get a rich apple flavor into my Sour: Muddling the apple, Infused vodka, and an Infused Simple Syrup. We held all other ingredients constant – so let’s see what gets the best flavor!

Flavor, Put to the Test! Muddling vs. Infusion vs. Flavored Syrup

Taste Test:

Apple Syrup

The first thing I noticed is the acid – it hits you right up front.  I would say the apple taste definitely came through and held through to the end, but the main focus is really the acid.  If I were to use this cocktail I would definitely need to re-balance to take the acid down a bit.

Apple Infusion

The apple flavor in this drink is really strong right in the beginning.  But unfortunately it dies off quickly.  I found this version to be the least satisfying as the apple flavor is only very briefly noticeable.

Muddled Apple

Finally, the muddled apple.  This drink definitely presented the best! It preserved the flavor of the acid as well as the fruit. Of course, the drawback with this is how much time and effort it takes to muddle the drink.  So you’ll definitely want to take that into consideration if you’re thinking about putting any muddled drink on your menu.


If I were to recreate the Apple Syrup and Apple Infusion Cocktails; I’d marry the two techniques together. Maybe infuse the apple with vodka and make an apple flavored syrup with ginger or other spices in order to create a very smooth finish and really kick up the “Apple” flavor even more.

What’s your favorite way to incorporate flavor into your cocktails? Let us know in the comments!

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.