Refreshing Fall Cocktails for Warm Autumn Days
These days, the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of warm weather. So satiate your fall cravings with these cool cocktails, including flavors like pumpkin, apple, maple, and more.
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Fig Dark and Stormy from Half-Baked Harvest
One doesn’t normally associate fall flavors of baking spices, pumpkin, and maple with refreshing cocktails. But since the continuing high temperatures make it unbearable to trade t-shirts for sweaters just yet, even as we head into the throes of #PSL season, I wanted to find cocktails perfect for enjoying on those unusually warm autumn evenings. Think: a mulled gin cocktail cooled with wine ice cubes, a pumpkin spice latte martini, and a fig Dark & Stormy.
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Fall cocktail basics
Answers about what goes into the perfect fall cocktail
What are the best fall cocktails?
Hot toddies and Irish coffees are comforting on chilly nights. But when the heat wave stretches out into the fall months, chilly classic cocktails with warm notes are the perfect compromise. Sip on a Manhattan, sangria with seasonal fruit, or a frozen Irish coffee.
What are popular flavors to use in fall cocktail recipes?
When the weather cools down, everyone turns from bright, citrusy thirst quenchers to baking spiced cocktails. Dash a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, or the popular pumpkin pie spice across a finished cocktail for an instant hit of fall. Also, seasonal harvests such as apples, pears, pumpkins, and figs — whether juice, puree, or garnish — will give a drink the perfect autumnal flavor and aroma.
What are the best spirits for the fall?
Since warm aromas and flavors are associated with the season, look for them in spirits such as the vanilla notes of a bourbon or reposado tequila, spices in an amaro, and baked apple in an apple brandy. There are also plenty of fall-friendly liqueurs with flavors such as spiced pear, ginger, and even corn liqueur.
Baking spiced cocktails
Cozy up to these fall cocktails infused with spices such as cinnamon, allspice, and cloves
Make apple cider even more fall-appropriate by infusing it with seasonal spices simply by sealing cinnamon sticks and star anise in a jar with apple cider for an hour. Then, to make the cocktail, stir together the spiced cider with spiced rum and top with hard cider over ice.
Cider syrup made with apple cider, honey, cinnamon, star anise, allspice, and cloves plays up the baking spice notes of the whiskey and amaro in this comforting but refreshing fall cocktail.
In the mood for the spiced flavors of mulled wine but don't want to drink a hot cocktail in 80-degree weather? This gin cocktail recipe uses mulled spiced syrup (simple syrup infused with tangerines and baking spices) and wine ice cubes (optional) for an extended-summer version.
To imbue this classic with fall flavors, all you need to do is make a chai tea simple syrup using chai tea bags, honey, and vanilla extract. The result is like a boozy chai tea latte that's ideal for enjoying during Sunday brunch or after dinner.
You don't have to be a fan of Harry Potter or even Halloween to appreciate this gold, bubbly whiskey cocktail. With elderflower liqueur, apple cider, maple syrup, and a cinnamon sugar rim, this fall drink is easy going down. To make the optional Golden Snitch garnish, simply wrap a cocktail cherry with edible gold leaf.
Fall harvest libations
Toast the autumn with the best of the peak-season harvest in these cocktail recipes
Barrel-aged tequila and butterscotch schnapps paired with apple cider emulate the flavors of caramel apple pie. But to make the drink even more interesting, the recipe suggests using unfiltered, fresh-pressed apple cider, whose mouthfeel complements the butterscotch.
This fall variation of the classic Tom Collins features pear puree, which can be made several days ahead of time, and garnished with a fresh thyme sprig.
Transition from summer to fall with this persimmon-and-brown-sugar-sweetened mojito. Either the Fuyu or Hachiya persimmon will work as long as it's ripe. To make a non-alcoholic, kid-friendly version, simply leave out the rum.
There's no shortage of corn cocktail recipes online, but this is one of the easiest to make, not requiring pureeing corn or cooking up corn milk. All that's required to make what is essentially a corn margarita is a couple of ounces of grilled corn to throw in the shaker with the tequila, lime juice, and agave syrup.
Smoky scotch and nutty sherry enhance the full-flavored jamminess of the Concord grapes in this cocktail. Making the Concord grape syrup is simple. Pulse 1 1/2 cups of Concord grapes in a blender a few times to chop up the grape skin and then mix the puree into a simple syrup simmering in a sauce pan. Strain and then refrigerate until cool.
Autumn brunch drinks
Serve these fall-flavored, day-friendly options alongside your most favorite meal of the weekends
For this recipe, don't make the mistake of swapping out apple cider, which is raw and unfiltered apple juice, for pasteurized, filtered apple juice. But you can use whichever sparkling wine you prefer, be it champagne or prosecco or even sparkling apple cider for a non-alcoholic sipper. The recipe writer prefers Extra Dry or Brut champagne.
Calvados, a French apple brandy (or applejack aka American apple brandy), enhances the sweet-tartness of the fresh apples in this autumn cocktail. The recipe creator suggests going with sweet-tart varieties such as Pippins and Pink Ladies whose sharpness can stand up to the ginger.
For many, autumn isn't signaled by falling leaves but by the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes at the neighborhood coffeehouse. Instead of spiking your seasonal go-to cuppa, mix up what is essentially a delicious espresso martini with pumpkin pie spice puree.
This smoky blackberry take on the quaffable classic is the perfect complement to brunch on a fall day. Allspice dram brings in the spice while the smoky ginger ale helps brighten up the peated scotch without diluting its aroma and flavor.
All it takes to make a beloved classic cocktail seasonally-appropriate is the addition of fall flavors
The Dark & Stormy cocktail is a quick and easy drink to throw together. And to whip it up for a fall evening, add a tablespoon of fig preserves to the cocktail shaker with the lemon juice and rum (or bourbon). The fruit's sweet, honeyed taste pairs well with the brown spirit's warm notes.
A couple of ounces of sweetened cranberry juice make this classic mule cocktail the perfect tummy soother after those hearty holiday feasts. Both cranberry juice and ginger beer aid in digestion.
This pomegranate Negroni promises to win over those usually turned off by the bitterness of the classic cocktail. Here, pomegranate juice takes over for the sweet vermouth called for in the traditional cocktail. This recipe batches six servings. Pour 4 ounces in an ice-filled rocks glass.
The New York Sour, a whiskey sour with a layer of complexity courtesy of a red wine float, is already tailor-made for fall sipping. But sweetening it with maple syrup versus simple syrup makes it sweater weather ready.
The Old Fashioned bourbon cocktail is fun and easy to experiment with, whether you're switching out the traditional whiskey for other spirits, sweetening it with infused syrup, or punctuating it with flavored bitters. This variation does all three to showcase fall flavors, using applejack brandy, maple syrup, and black walnut bitters.
Just because it's no longer summer, doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to the fun of tropical drinks. This recipe dresses up the Mai Tai for the fall with a hit of herbaceous absinthe and an unusually spicy pumpkin spice mix, courtesy of Sichuan pepper.
More great cocktails
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