We had a "cider bash" last week at Fog Creek, rather than our customary "beer bash". The place was stocked with hard cider and a bunch of other apple-related paraphernalia. I mentioned to my friend Bradford that it was a shame we didn't have any rye whiskey, as then we could make Stone Fences. A Stone Fence is hard apple cider and rye whiskey over ice.
Magically, a bottle of rye appeared and we were a go!
The Stone Fence traditionally calls for some Angostura or other bitters, which we did have on hand, but decided to omit. On a whim I cut up a caramel-nut apple and garnished the glass with a slice. I thought it was visually appealing, but it was Bradford who kept his garnish on his glass and pointed out that inhaling the scent of nuts and caramel while drinking the apple-and-rye cocktail was amazing. And indeed, it's just what the cocktail needed.
There's precedent for this in [one interpretation of] the traditional mint julep, which is to pour bourbon and simple syrup over shaved ice and garnish heavily with mint. Serving with a short straw forces the drinker to plunge their schnozz into a bouquet of mint.
The same principle applies here.
A recipe here for your convenience:
2 oz. rye whiskey
6 oz. hard apple cider
A nut-coated caramel apple
In old-fashioned glass, pour the rye over ice, then top up with cider. Garnish with a wedge of caramel apple.