As summer-ripened apples turn to cider, autumn’s last leaves desperately cling to trees in various stages of undress and crisp air sends us scrambling for sweaters, there’s no doubt…we are firmly rooted in fall. And just as we rotate our summer linens for winter wools, it’s time to say so long to spritzes (at least until Spring!) and welcome robust, complex cocktails designed to warm you up as the temps cool down.
Mixologists around the country are celebrating the season by including a veritable cornucopia of fall’s bounty in their offerings. Pears provide an autumnal twist to a classic whiskey sour, baking spices warm up classic coolers and richly-spiced squash sippers step in when a pumpkin spice latte just won’t cut it. And keeping on par with the season, these cocktails are as vibrant as fall foliage, making them an ideal addition to your seasonal celebrations. Until then, slip into a sweater, shake, stir and sip your way to getting cozy AF.
Ivan Papic, Beverage Director of Sweetbriar (New York, NY)
“This cocktail was inspired by the New York Sour,” explains Papic. “Pears came into play since they are available in the fall and adding fresh ginger to it was no brainer, since they play well together.”
1 1/2 oz Woodinville Bourbon
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Demerara Syrup (rich, 2:1)
1 oz Green Pear Puree
Red Wine Float
Muddle 2-3 ginger “coins” at the bottom of a mixing glass, add all other ingredients.
Fine strain into a rocks glass over a big cube, finish with a float of dry red wine.
The Spice is Right
Alex Barbatsis, Head Bartender at The Whistler (Chicago, IL)
“The Spice is Right is a perfect fall cocktail because it features both cozy autumnal flavors like pumpkin and ginger while still having a refreshing brightness from the lime, coconut, and rums,“ says Barbatsis. “It’s a great drink to have for sweater weather on a patio or a perfect precursor for your Thanksgiving feast.”
1 oz White Rum
1/2 oz Overproof Jamaican Rum
1 1/4 oz Pumpkin Coconut Syrup (recipe below)
1/2 oz Ginger Liqueur, such as Canton Ginger
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Garnish: Fresh mint and cinnamon stick
Swizzle all ingredients in a footed Hurricane or Collins glass with ice
Garnish with a mint sprig and cinnamon stick (so it looks like a pumpkin!)
Pumpkin Coconut Syrup Recipe:
400 mL Pumpkin Puree
400 mL Coconut Milk
800 mL White sugar
Blend all ingredients until the texture is smooth.
Courtesy of Maxfield Clarke, general manager of Chasing Sage (Charleston, SC)
“The classic daiquiri is one of our favorite canvases for creating seasonal drinks. One technique we like to use when adding different ingredients to a daiquiri-style cocktail is we add a little bit of citric acid to bump up the tartness, which helps to balance the sweetness of the other ingredients. Citric acid occurs naturally in lime juice, and by replacing some of the lime juice with an acidified syrup we can squeeze in more of the flavor we are going after – in this case pumpkin. A little bit goes a long way, so precise measurements are necessary for this recipe,” advises Clarke.
1 1/2 oz White Rum
1 1/2 oz Pumpkin Syrup (see recipe below)
1/4 oz VSOP Rhum Agricole
1/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
4 ml Allspice Dram
Garnish: Grated cinnamon & nutmeg
Add all ingredients to the small tin of a cocktail shaker. Add ice to large tin, and place the small tin in the large tin. Seal the tin together and shake until the outside of the tin is very cold. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with the grated cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pumpkin Syrup Recipe
1 sugar pie pumpkin (or other cooking pumpkin, like kabocha
1 Vanilla bean
Wash pumpkins, no need to peel them. Remove seeds and pulp from pumpkins and cut into pieces. Using a juice machine, juice the pumpkin pieces. Weigh the juice and add half that much sugar by weight. Add one vanilla bean, split and scraped. Simmer for 30 minutes on low to medium heat, juice should reduce slightly. Cool and strain. Once cooled, add 1.5 grams citric acid for every 100 grams of pumpkin syrup and stir to combine.
The Bad Rabbit
Robbie Mack, Lead Bartender at Venteux
“The sweetness of the fresh carrot juice pairs perfectly with the tartness of the ginger,” says Mack. “And the bright orange color makes it super festive for autumn and perfect for Thanksgiving.”
2 oz Absolut Elyx
1 ½ oz Fresh Carrot Juice
1 ¼ oz Ginger Liqueur
½ oz Lime Juice
3 dashes of Black Walnut Bitters
Garnish: Dehydrated lime wheel
In a cocktail shaker, add all of the ingredients minus the garnish, add ice, and shake vigorously for 5-7 seconds.
Strain into a rocks glass, top with a splash of soda water, and finish with a large ice cube. Garnish with the dehydrated lime wheel
This, That and the Other Thing
Craig Hutson, Beverage Director of Jack & Charlie’s no.118 (New York, NY)
“We wanted to add a Fall appropriate cocktail to our menu,” Hutson tells us. “We took inspiration from chef Ed [Cotton]’s Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding – cross-utilizing the fig puree that’s used in the dessert for the cocktail and balancing it out with some of the sweet and spicy notes in the cognac.”
2 oz Pierre Ferrand ambre
3/4 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Ginger syrup (recipe below), or high-quality, store bought
1 tsp Gus and Grey fig and apple jam
Garnish: Fresh fig
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients together with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a half fig.
Ginger Syrup Recipe
2 pounds fresh gingerroot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 English cucumber, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
2 fresh red chiles, chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup turbinado sugar
¾ cup acacia honey
2 cups water
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Ginger Syrup Directions
Bring all ingredients to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Reduce for 15 minutes. Cool and strain out solids.
Courtesy of Balaboosta (New York, NY)
1 1/2 oz Rough Rider Rye
3/4 oz Ginger Syrup
3/4 oz Date Syrup
1/4 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
4 dashes of Orange Bitters
4 dash Angostura Bitters
Spritz Orange Blossom Water
Garnish: Smoked Orange Peel
Combine all ingredients In a mixing glass filled with ice and stir. Spritz serving glass with orange blossom water and strain cocktail over large ice cube. Garnish with smoked orange peel.
A Few Gourd Men
Courtesy of Prohibition Taproom (Philadelphia, PA)
“The sweeter malt flavors of the Highland scotch bring out the natural flavors of the winter squash and the ginger syrup enhances its natural spice notes. The combination of sage and Islay scotch garnishes make for a smoky and herbaceous nose, balancing the spiced, lightly sweet palate. These contrasting experiences bring out the best in the scotch, and the winter flavors that we all love — making it a truly unique drinking experience.”
1 1/2 oz Highland scotch
1/4 oz amaro Averna
1/4 oz Byrrh
1 oz Winter Squash Puree
1/2 oz Ginger Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Garnish: Sage leaf and Islay scotch
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients together with ice. Shake vigorously for 5-7 seconds. Double strain into a coupe glass. Top with expressed sage and an Islay scotch mist.
The Cozy Sweater
Daisy Clark, Bar Manager at Hearth and Hill (Park City, Utah)
“The Cozy Sweater is inspired by… just that, “ enthuses Clark. “It’s meant to convey the feeling your favorite winter sweater brings about when you first put it on for the season. The rich, sweet flavor of maple syrup contrasts against the bourbon and brightness of the orange bitters to make a refreshing and comforting cold weather cocktail — warms your soul from the inside out.”
1 1/2 oz Bourbon
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
5-8 Dashes of Orange Bitters
Garnish: Cinnamon Stick
In a cocktail tin, add all of the ingredients plus ice and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass, garnish with a cinnamon stick.