the ginger apple swizzle | a low-sugar, sherry cocktail

cocktails, fall, fruits, other spirits, winter

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Crisp apples, roasted nuts, spicy ginger, herbaceous rosemary.

Those are some of my favorite flavors of the fall and winter seasons, and they all magically meld together just perfectly, somehow. I have definitely been on a kick with creating all-cocktails-apple lately, and this particular recipe incorporates all of these components in bubbly, festive fashion.

In an effort to cut back on my sugar intake, I’ve been playing around with low-sugar or sugar-free cocktails, focusing on the natural vibrancy of fruits and herbs. The catalyst for this quest occurred earlier this month when Steve and I baked and devoured a batch of oatmeal cookies in one sitting. I kept rationalizing that they were healthy-ish. That they could be dinner. One cookie led to 15 cookies.

Then there was the night that very same week that we baked and ate an entire pumpkin pie.

After dinner.

That was the tipping point.

That pumpkin pie was truly delicious, and I reveled in the decadence of eating the whole thing. Of course, Steve contributed his fair share of slices, too. I’m laughing about it now, but I also knew at that point that I had to slow it down with the sweets. When I craft cocktails, some kind of sweetening agent is almost inevitable, and I normally use a simple syrup to bring sweetness to the drink. Sweetness is necessary to bring balance to a cocktail, especially when there is a strong acidic or bitter note.

And a balanced drink is a good drink.

For this cocktail, I used Zevia’s ginger beer to bring a gingery, sweet balance to the nutty, savory notes in its ingredient lineup. Zevia’s ginger beer is naturally sweetened with stevia, a plant-based sweetening agent derived from the plant’s actual leaves. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is devoid of calories. And all of Zevia’s products are verified by the Non-GMO Project.

This cocktail’s flavor profile is definitely on the savory side, thanks to the addition of Lustau’s dry Oloroso Sherry. A small portion of Sherry goes a long way in providing ample nutty, sour, and dried fruit aromas to this cocktail. These, along with the caramelized spiced orange notes from the Pimm’s No. 1, complement the brightness in the freshly juiced apples.

Kind of like an apple pie, in drinkable form.

Most swizzle-style cocktails are rum-based, due to their origination in the Caribbean. They’re generally sour and are made by vigorously stirring the cocktail ingredients with crushed ice, using a swizzle stick. This stick-like tool is traditionally made from a branch from an actual swizzlestick tree. It’s a longish wand with a pronged end, and you can now find versions of a swizzle stick made from metal, plastic, or wood. They’re suitable for stirring and chilling ingredients in crushed ice, but you can substitute a bar spoon or even a long kitchen spoon to achieve the same result.

I swapped some apple brandy for rum for this seasonal swizzle and amplified the ginger by muddling fresh ginger and adding Zevia’s ginger beer for an effervescent finish.

the ginger apple swizzle

  • 1/4″ piece of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ounce apple brandy {I used Laird’s Applejack}
  • 1/2 ounce dry Oloroso Sherry {I used Lustau Don Nuño}
  • 1/4 ounce Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 ounces fresh apple cider or juice {I juiced some honeycrisp apples}
  • Zevia ginger beer
  • crushed ice
  • rosemary sprig, for garnish
  1. In a sturdy tall cocktail glass, gently and briefly muddle the ginger pieces along with the lemon juice.
  2. Add the apple brandy, Sherry, Pimm’s No. 1, and apple cider or juice.
  3. Fill the cocktail glass halfway with crushed ice and using either a bar spoon or a “swizzle stick”, stir the ingredients together until well-chilled.
  4. Add more crushed ice and top with ginger beer.
  5. Add a little extra crushed ice, mounding over the top, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary, remembering to gently squeeze the rosemary to release its aromatic oils.
  • This recipe yields one cocktail.
  • If you don’t have a bar spoon or a swizzle stick, you can easily fill a cocktail mixing tin with the ginger, lemon juice, brandy, Sherry, Pimm’s No. 1, and apple juice. Just add some ice, shake, and strain into a tall cocktail glass filled with crushed ice.
  • A little bit of ginger flavor goes a long way, so when you are muddling the ginger pieces, give maybe a good four or five grinds with your muddler. You don’t want to overpower the other flavor components too much.

I made a couple of these swizzles last night, just as Steve and I finished putting up our Christmas tree. It’s finally feeling a little more celebratory and cozy around here. Lights are up on the outside of the house, and our holiday playlist has been on repeat. Our tree is also about the only thing in the house that’s actually finished. Now that the hectic harvest season is over, we’ve been focusing our energies on obtaining our winery license {yes, you have to start the process about a year in advance}, installing a deer-proof fence around the property, and fixing up our small, dated farmhouse.

Calling the house “dated” might seem a little harsh, so I’ve been going with “rustic” and “full of potential.” Truth be told, it needs a lot of work. And once you start on one project, another one reveals itself. I almost want to stop our current renovation projects just so the workload doesn’t keep unfolding in a fractal-like expansion.

I’ll be sharing some work-in-progress photos coming up. Out of all the remodeling projects going on, I’m super excited that I’ll finally have a proper place to store my spirits collection. They’ve been haphazardly stored in boxes, on top of my desk, and inside a dodgy, particle board shelving unit in our dining room.

Cheers to the weekend and to projects and to the coziest of seasons!

And, most importantly, to not downing entire pies in one sitting.

Again, thank you for supporting the partnerships here on holly & flora that allow me to keep bringing all the delicious cocktails your way. While Zevia did sponsor this post, all thoughts, photos, and opinions are my own.



  1. I’m loving these apple-centric ideas to help me use up all the apples from our grocery box. This ginger combo is sounding particularly enticing! I totally hear you on the home reno front, how one project reveals another issue that needs to be addressed … it can feel a bit overwhelming! We never ended up getting our tree decorated the other day so now I have no idea when it’s going to happen, but I’m excited to get it done because it just magically makes everything the whole house feel so holiday ready 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Jayme! xo

    • Thanks, Christine! We were up past midnight finishing up the tree between paint-rolling sessions. Hopefully, you can get to yours this weekend. Even if you get yours up on Christmas Eve, it will be worth it, you know? I can’t wait to take a peek at your KITCHEN!! I’ll DM you a photo of the progress on our kitchen on IG – it’s a little crazy right now. Hope you have a great weekend, too! We’ll be fixing the plumbing and hopefully getting some water back on here at the house. Traveling to friends’ houses for showers is only fun once. 😉 XO!

  2. Jim Hinkle says:

    Sounds good.

    Hope you and steve and Kyle are doing well over there. Please keep me advised on your progress with the plants and the winery.

    Merry Christmas


    Jim Hinkle

    Emeritus Vineyards

    707 799-1065

    • Jim!

      Merry Christmas to you and your family, too! As you can see, I am a little behind on responding to you. If it makes you feel any better, we haven’t even celebrated our official Christmas, and it’s already two weeks into the new year! We are all doing great, thanks! We are finishing up a fencing project and getting ready to begin the winery build-out. It’s definitely an exciting time! Steve and I miss seeing you there at the restaurant. Thanks for checking in and always being such a huge support!
      Have a wonderful new year!!

  3. Jaime says:

    Merry Christmas, Jayme, and best of luck with all of your projects! I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your great writings…feeling very Christmas-y right now– planning on trying your new ginger apple swizzle with holiday guests! just beautiful!

    • Hi Jaime! I had a challenging past three weeks, and I’m just getting around to you. Thanks SO much for your encouraging words. I mean it. I hope you made a delicious twist on the ginger apple swizzle and had a beautiful holiday. If you did, how did it go? We have been dealing with a crazy bathroom remodel that is about to drive the two of us insane. It will be worth it, though!! It can’t happen soon enough. 🙂 And cheers to 2018!

  4. Though we couldn’t find the right sherry in Delta (substituted plain dry), we did find Pimm’s No. 1, and using Big B’s apple juice and Canada Dry ginger ale, delighted everyone at Christmas dinner with ample ginger apple swizzles! Thanks for this great recipe, it was really delicious.

    • Hi Rita! I’m so happy you were able to make a good substitute with the Pimm’s No. 1. That would totally work. I didn’t have good lucking finding Sherry out here, either. I usually just resort to a drive to Denver or a visit to <– That place will get you into trouble. I'm happy that Delta has some other options that work, too. I like to drive out to Corks out in Montrose; they seem to have a pretty solid selection. And thanks so much for making the recipe and sharing it with your Christmas guests! Have a beautiful start to the new year!

  5. Gail Henderson says:

    I finally read this post. I always enjoy your writing. Sometimes, I learn new things, too, like, “fractal-like-expansion.” Such a neat expression; succinct, but packed with meaning!! I REALLY like it!🤓

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. […] I’ve also been enjoying adding Zevia’s stevia-based mixers to my drinks, like the Ginger Apple Swizzle from a few posts back. This sparkling spiced blackberry Negroni gets its flavor from fresh […]

  7. […] via the ginger apple swizzle | a low-sugar, sherry cocktail — holly & flora […]

  8. […] earlier this year and even humorously shared my battle with sugar with you in December here in this post. Basically, if I could eat cake everyday, I would. Hannah’s chocolate cake, along with a […]

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