The Apple Whiskey Winter Warmer


Chef Matt McCallister and his crew at FT33 in Dallas create seasonal, contemporary interpretations of classic Southern cuisine. He does this with dishes such as hot and sour veal shortbreads and black bass with fermented sweet potato. The restaurant’s head bartender, Lauren Festa, follows Chef McCallister’s lead and curates an ideas-driven drinks menu. She uses fresh and unusual ingredients, including maitake mushrooms and cloves to build her signature cocktails. 

When a winter chill creeps in, Festa busts out her famous Smoked Apple + Whiskey cocktail, an apple whiskey-driven drink that uses sage, smoked apple butter, and cloves to create a bigger, spicier taste. She says that the idea came from the use of smoked apple butter in many dishes at FT33.

“I loved the flavor and thought it would be neat in a cocktail and wanted to use a variety of apple components,” says Festa. “I had a New York apple whiskey made from hand-pressed New York apples, that, with a combination of baked apple bitters and sage, came together nicely. The smoked black salt on the rim brings out the smokiness of the smoked apple butter.”

Chef McCallister suggests enjoying this drink with a subtle but savory dish such as veal sweetbreads or bay scallops. If you’re making this at home and you’re not in the mood to cook, he says, a handful of grapes works almost as well.

Smoked Apple + Whiskey
(Makes one cocktail)


  • 2 oz Leopold’s New York Apple Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Art in the Age Sage Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz steeped simple syrup (4 oz brown sugar, 4 oz hot water, 1 large cinnamon stick grated and dropped in, 6 cloves, and 6 sprigs fresh sage. Let steep until cool.)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice (strained of pulp and seeds)
  • 6 drops baked apple bitters
  • 3 drops Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6
  • 2 tsp apple butter

Garnish with smoked alder salt on rim.