Although Claire Sprouse hails from Houston, Texas (and originally worked in the nonprofit art community before shifting over to hospitality), New York is her newfound home. In 2014, Sprouse formed the Tin Roof Drink Community, with Chad Arnholt, an initiative designed to bolster sustainability in bars through outreach and education. The pair later received the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Sustainability Spirit award and Golden Spirit award for their work in the field.
Devotion to eco-friendly practices led Sprouse to testify before a New York City board regarding the use of plastic straws, which eventually contributed to the city’s ban. In 2018, she opened Hunky Dory, an all-day café and bar in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, where she is both owner and bartender. Hunky Dory practices Sprouse’s low-waste beliefs.
Now that apple season is here, celebrating New York feels more seasonally appropriate than ever. Apples—and apple cocktails, by that measure—feel particularly of the moment. Sprouse’s Wild Apple cocktail, which appears on the Hunky Dory menu, is a blend of Neversink Spirits’ apple aperitif (a New York version of classic French Pommeau, a traditional spirit made in Normandy, where un-aged apple brandy is blended into apple cider to create a fortified, apple-based wine) and several other elements. Part of the proceeds of this cocktail go to the ongoing relief efforts in Beirut, Lebanon.
At Hunky Dory, you can order a batch of Wild Apples to go, in fact (five for the price of four can be purchased for $45, a deal in any market). The drink is a standalone prize, though it feels like a perfect companion, too, to any one of the late-summer (or early fall, depending on how you look at it) snacks offered at Hunky Dory these days: corn gazpacho with charred corn salsa; fried green tomatoes with thousand island dressing; cantaloupe and prosciutto; vegan popsicles made from coconut milk and chia seeds; head-on shrimp with garlic rice; and even corn soft serve topped with Fritos.
There is no good reason, in the throes of a fall-ish afternoon, not to compile the necessary ingredients for this apple cocktail, which feels both New York-centric and decidedly far-flung—a little bit of somewhere else tossed into the mix (which, if you think about it, is just about as New York as New York gets). With that in mind, Claire Sprouse’s Wild Apple is every bit the cocktail of our Brooklyn dreams, the apple—if you will—of our seasonal eye. Here’s how to make it at home.
- 1 oz. Arak
- 1 oz. Apple Aperitif
- .75 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
- .75 oz. coconut cream
- Dehydrated slice of apple (for garnish)
Combine ingredients in a Boston shaker with crushed or cracked ice. Shake to combine. Pour contents of shaker into a glass without straining. Garnish with a dehydrated slice of apple.