It’s time to trade in your margarita for… fennel and apple?
You betcha. With autumn comes everything wonderfully autumnal. If August is slushie season, September is for smoky pomegranate cocktails. Here are a few of our our loveliest, whisky-est, brandy-est fall cocktails to usher in sweater weather.
Fennel lovers, it’s your lucky day. This fennel and apple cocktail mingles gin and apple juice with a fennel simple syrup to delightful effect. There’s a spritz of club soda in there, Peychaud’s bitters to balance any sweetness, and a cute fennel frond garnish. This drink screams “Fall!”
Maple ice cubes are the autumnal foundation for this bourbon, maple syrup, citrus and ginger mix from the husband-and-wife team behind Ravenwood in the Hudson Valley. Originally created with maple syrup tapped from the property and a local bourbon from Upstate New York, the warm flavors of this cocktail are the antidote for a cool fall evening. A flamed citrus rind is the final, dramatic flourish.
Star anise pods are beautiful on their own. Embedded in an oversized ice cube and drifting in a citrusy, maple sweetened bourbon mix, the coin-sized pods are stunning. A top-off of Prosecco adds a festive finish to the woodsy flavors.
Smoked pomegranate juice and seeds are the secret ingredients in this knockout smoky pomegranate cocktail. (You’re going to want to fire up your Traeger!) It’s just lemon, pomegranate, vodka, and smoke, with a high note of mint. The contrast between the mint and the smoky pomegranate juice is unbelievable. If there’s a drink to bridge the seasons, this is it.
You love autumn. You’re gonna be hosting. This is the drink for your get-togethers. Combine cider, applejack, lemon juice, and grenadine and top with sparkling wine for these gorgeous sparkling applejack cocktails. Guests can just use the pre-made pitcher to top off their own drinks with bubbly. Sweet, tart and fizzy and equal measure, it’s a downright celebratory way to start an event.
If you like your cocktails on the savory side, may we suggest the Commissary? It’s the signature drink at Roy Choi’s eponymous Los Angeles restaurant, and the brainchild of bartender Matthew Biancaniello. Shiso leaves, cucumber, lime juice, agave, ginger juice, gin, sweet vermouth, Grand Marnier, Campari and Cherry Heering all make cameos. If that sounds like a walk in a savory wonderland to you, well, you’re not alone: It’s a hit at the restaurant, too.
If you’re reluctant to let go of boat rides, dips in the pool, and crushed-ice drinks, here’s the drink to help you transition. It’s a Stone Fence Sour, a riff on the 18th-century classic by our own 2020 Chefs’ Collective master bartender Alba Huerta. Bourbon, hard cider and orgeat get together with lime juice, orange juice and crushed ice. It’s the loveliest way to say “farewell” to the dog days and “hello” to corduroys.
Some of you have been huffing and puffing and scrolling and muttering until you found your rye drink. Here it is. For some of us, rye is the only way to go, especially in autumn. This is the Rye Not, by David Little of Seattle’s Barnacle. It includes Zucca, a rhubarb-based amaro that is increasingly available at most liquor stores. Combined with rye, rhubarb bitters and spicy ginger liqueur, it’s an eye-opener built for starting to wrap your head around winter coming. (Sorry!)
Milk punch! It’s just so good. This one has allspice and nutmeg, which means it’s the potable equivalent of walking into a cider house in New England in October. Think: bourbon, brandy, allspice dram, milk and heavy cream. Yum, yum, yum.
Chef Charlie Parker of Oakland’s Haven restaurant created this colorful Parker punch. We love that you can make the anise, cinnamon, clove and allspice syrup in advance and refrigerate it before getting your friends together. When they arrive, shake the syrup up with bourbon, Lillet, cranberry juice, Champagne and walnut liqueur. It’ll knock your (argyle) socks off.