This nonalcoholic sparkler is decidedly sophisticated: fennel's light, anise flavor tempered by sweetly autumnal apple juice. The recipe for fennel syrup makes approximately 1 cup, enough for 8 servings of this drink.
FOR THE FENNEL SYRUP 1 ½ tbsp. fennel seeds 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup water
FOR THE SPRITZER 2 oz. (¼ cup) unfiltered apple juice 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 10 oz. (1¼ cup) seltzer or sparkling water Apple slices and fennel fronds, for garnish (optional)
1. Make the fennel syrup: Coarsely grind fennel seeds in a spice grinder. Add seeds, sugar and water to a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Pour the fennel syrup through a fine strainer and let cool until room temperature, about 30 minutes. Syrup will keep, airtight, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
2. Make the spritzer: Stir together 2 tbsp. fennel syrup, apple juice, and lemon juice in a tall ice-filled glass. Top with seltzer, and garnish with apple slices and fennel fronds, if using.