Amber is the color of autumn in a glass, with the tender blush of a Bellini giving way to sturdier, warming whiskey-based drinks. But it’s also time for cider, now on the upswing. Cider is not only a sweetly refreshing family quaff; when fermented and alcoholic, it’s also a delicious alternative that competes with beer.

You could argue that locally made, fresh nonalcoholic cider is simply apple juice. It’s really more than that and better because these days most apple juice is made from imported concentrates, too sweet and with all the apple richness filtered out. Like wine grapes, cider apples are not meant for the fruit bowl, instead they are varieties that deliver complexity and richness when pressed.

Hard cider is tart and refreshing, food-friendly and excellent to sip at dinner as the English, French, Spanish and Canadians well know. Another apple drink to keep in the fridge is apple ice wine, as delectable a nectar with dessert as Muscat de Baumes-de-Venise. Made by pressing frozen apples that produce intensely concentrated juice, Neige from Quebec is one label to look for; Still River from Massachusetts is another.

With fresh or hard cider on hand, you have the makings of all sorts of drinks. Mugs of warm, spiced mulled cider are perfect for a chilly afternoon, as are these three cider-based cocktails.

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cocktail

2 ounces Kentucky bourbon

1 ounce fino sherry

½ ounce triple sec or Cointreau

3 dashes Peychaud bitters

4 ounces dry sparkling hard cider

1. Combine bourbon, sherry and triple sec or Cointreau in a cocktail shaker with

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