The days are short and the weather is cold. Time to pull out your cozy sweaters and light up the fireplace, cocktail in hand. These gorgeous creations from bars across the country will put you in the festive fall spirit. From witchy brews to grown up pumpkin spice and escapes to the tropics, we’ve got cocktails to keep you in good drink all season long.
The Spice Is Right
Alex Barbatsis, head bartender at The Whistler in Chicago, says The Spice is Right is the perfect fall cocktail. “It features both cozy autumnal flavors like pumpkin and ginger while still having a refreshing brightness from the lime, coconut, and rums. It’s a great drink to have for sweater weather on a patio.”
1 oz White Rum (The Whistler uses Denizen)
0.5 oz Overproof Jamaican Rum (The Whistler uses Smith and Cross)
1.25 oz Pumpkin Coconut Syrup (recipe below)
0.5 oz Ginger Liqueur (The Whistler uses a housemade ginger liqueur, but you could substitute for Canton Ginger Liqueur for home use)
0.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Pumpkin Coconut Syrup Recipe:
400 mL Pumpkin Puree
400 mL Coconut Milk
800 mL White sugar
Blend all ingredients until the texture is smooth.
Build: Swizzle all ingredients in a footed Hurricane or Collins glass with ice. and garnish with a mint sprig and cinnamon stick (so it looks like a pumpkin!)
The Bad Rabbit
You might not think of carrots as a fall cocktail staple, but Robbie Mack, lead bartender at Venteux in Chicago, makes the case. “The sweetness of the fresh carrot juice pairs perfectly with the tartness of the ginger, and the bright orange color makes it super festive for autumn.”
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
Build: In a cocktail tin, 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.
The Cozy Sweater
“The Cozy Sweater is inspired by… just that!,” says Daisy Clark, bar manager at Hearth and Hill . “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.”
1.5 oz Bourbon
.75 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Orange Juice
.75 oz Maple Syrup
5-8 Dashes of Orange Bitters
Garnish: Cinnamon Stick
Build: 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.
This cocktail is perfect for Halloween, but we don’t blame you if you can’t wait until next year. The Salem witches were year-round kind of girls anyway. Here’s what bartender Dylan Mullins, who created the cocktail for The Violet Hour in Chicago, says about it: “You’re a witch on trial. You did the magic but you got away with it because you’re that good — this is what you’ve got brewing back at the hut. I wanted to create something evocative of Pre-Revolution America without using any literal baking spices. The kombucha-like quality of the shrub is what I think sells the sort of home-brewed funk I’m going for. The vermouth introduces the kind of mulled wine flavor that brings the drink into the season. And the shrub uses apple cider vinegar instead of white wine vinegar for full fall effect.”
1.5 oz Village Vodka
.75 oz Cocci Di Torino
.25 oz St. George Pear Brandy
.50 oz Lemon Juice
1.0 oz Pear Shrub
Garnish: Lemon skewered into an “s” shaped curve
Build: Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail tin. Double strain over ice into a double old fashioned glass and garnish with lemon “s.”
Fall is often associated with fireplaces and the crunch of leaves, but those on the coasts experience fall as well, of course. “Wholesome Whisper is reminiscent of the chilling and biting air near the sea or ocean at night,” says David Mor of Robert Et Fils. “For Autumn, I wanted to step away from solely flavors of aromatic spice and orchard fruit, and incorporate elements of salt, earth, and woodsiness. This White Negroni-inspired drink recreates this breezy experience with whispers [ah! get it?] of campfire smoke and sea salt.”
1oz Paul Blanck Muscat d’Alsace
1oz Dolin Blanc
.75oz sunflower butter-washed AMASS Dry Gin
.25oz olive brine
.125oz palo santo-infused Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe
Build: Stir ingredients over ice and strain over a picked cube of ice in a double old fashioned glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
A good hot cider is about as classic a winter cocktail as they come. Jeff Williams at The Press Room in Chicago created this one, packed with spices.
5oz mulled cider
0.75oz calvados or apple Jack
For the mulled cider:
1 gallon apple cider
2 star anise
6 cinnamon sticks
1 orange (sliced in wheels)
1tsp black peppercorn
1/2tsp ground nutmeg
Build cider: Combine all in a large pot, bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through cheesecloth.
Build cocktail: Stir ingredients together and garnish with a cinnamon stick or orange peel.
This is a beautiful cocktail, perfect for sipping by a fireplace. “Sweater Weather is a textured play on all the autumnal flavors we see this time of year, combined with the soothing properties of a golden milk latte,” says Esmé Beverage Director Tia Barrett. “The spicy notes of baking spice as well as ginger bring warmth to the drink.”
1.5 oz Seedlip Spice 94 infused with bourbon chai tea
.75 oz Seedlip Grove
.5 oz Wolffer Estate Verjus
1.25 oz Cardamom Syrup (green cardamom, Demerara sugar, black pepper, fresh ginger)
0.25 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Bitter End Moroccan Bitters
1 dash Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters
2 drops Saline Unsweetened oat milk, frothed
Build: “At Esmé, we sous vide the ingredients of the cocktail to warm them through,” says Barrett. “At home, you can combine in a small saucepan over low heat to warm through. Finish with the frothed oat milk.”
Fig & Delicious
This delicious fall cocktail joined the Nobu Chicago menu in November. Sweet figs and citrus hint toward the holidays.
Fig-infused Town Branch Single Malt Whiskey
Fresh Lemon Juice
Angostura Cocoa Bitters
Build: Stir ingredients together and strain into a Nick & Nora glass
The Gran Bellini
At Isla, the newly opened contemporary Australian brasserie in Midtown Manhattan, beverage director Tristan Brunel focuses on seasonal cocktails and vermouth aperitif service. “New York and Australia’s love of apples inspired this cocktail,” Brunel says. “We use a dry sparkling wine to lighten and brighten the rich characteristics of the apple liqueur. The chai tea adds a perfect amount of fall spice and a nod to coffee shop culture.”
1 oz Granny Smith apple purée
3/4 oz Léopold Brothers New York sour apple liqueur
1/4 oz Chai tea concentrate
3 oz Sauvage Blanc de Blancs
Build: Build all ingredients (except the sparkling wine) in a mixing glass, stir well. Add to a chilled coupe glass and top with Blanc de Blancs. Garnish with a dehydrated apple slice.
Go south of the border this fall with this agave cocktail. “I wanted to create a cocktail drawing inspiration from a classic,” says Casa Dragones Bar Director José Luis León. “The flavor is elegant, agave forward, complementing Casa Dragones Añejo Barrel Blend’s notes of spicy black pepper with the cacao bitters.”
2 oz Casa Dragones Añejo
1 oz Vermouth Rosso
¼ oz Luxardo Maraschino or other Maraschino Liqueur
3 Dash Chocolate Bitters
Garnish: Orange Twist and Amarena Cherry
Build: In a mixing glass, add Casa Dragones Añejo, Vermouth, Maraschino, and bitters. Add ice and stir for 15–20 seconds. Serve in a chilled Nick and Nora glass. Cut an orange peel, using the twist to provide aroma to the cocktail.
Koskue and Apple
Finnish people know a thing or two about staying cozy in the cold. This Finnish Kyrö cocktail boosts winter blues with dark rye gin and apple. “Kyrö is gin for when the weather sucks!,” says Jonna Kristina, who works for the company in Chicago.
1oz Kyrö dark rye gin
2oz Apple cider
1 Apple slice
1 vanilla pod
Build: Stir together over lots of ice; add the apple slice and vanilla pod for garnish
“The Mumtaz is my take on an Aviation, a tropical tiki drink,” says Paresh Patel of Besharam, in San Francisco. “The blend of orange blossom, almond and pistachio from the orgeat brings out the sweet notes of gulkan tincture, or the rose petal jam- all tempered by the spicy kick from the dash of Firewater.” Because sometimes when the weather gets cold, you gotta get away.
1 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
4 dashes Gulkan Tincture
1 dash Firewater
Build: In a mixing glass, add Firewater, Gulkan Tincture, Orgreat Syrup and freshly squeezed lemon. Add ice and stir for 15–20 seconds. Serve in a chilled glass and top with a sprinkling of the Gulkan Tincture.
This cocktail from Cookshop in New York City takes pumpkin spice up a notch. “I have put a variation of this cocktail on many menus over the years and I keep coming back to it as it combines all the emotional and sensory elements of fall into a sessionable mule-style cocktail that’s not cloying despite the strong flavors,” says Tim Harris, beverage director at Bowery Group. “The agave is infused with whole garam masala spices (cinamon, cardamom, bay leaf, coriander seed). Normally I would avoid flavored vodkas and anything ‘pumpkin spice’ but the Crop really works here.”
2oz Crop Organic Spiced Pumpkin Vodka
0.75oz Fall-Spice Agave
0.75oz Lime Juice
Top Ginger Beer
Build: Add vodka, agave and lime to shaker. Shake and strain over into a glass of your choice. Top with a splash of ginger beer and garnish with something festive like a wheat sprig or fall leaf.
At Junoon in New York City, the paloma is adapted to suit the season. “This cocktail is a simple and seasonal twist on a classic Paloma with the addition of some of the best spices and teas from India, making it more versatile and flavorful for the autumn season,” says Beverage Director Hemant Pathak.
1.5Oz (45ml) Chai infused Piedre Almas Mezcal
1.5 Oz (45ml) Fresh Grapefruit juice
.5 Oz (15ml) Aperol
.25 Oz (7.5 ml) Simple Syrup
1 pinch sea salt (for garnish)
Masala chai infused Mezcal:
8 g Masala Chai tea
2 g Earl gray tea
750 ml Mezcal
Mix all three ingredients in a glass jar and let it sit for 20-25 mins, gently stir a couple of times in between. Strain and your infusion is ready.
Build: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously and strain. Garnish with a grapefruit peel and edible flower.
The Champagne bar at Four Seasons at the Surf Club puts a twist on a classic apple martini using an homemade apple cordial and Sherry. The results is an “aperitivo” style martini, perfect before dinner. The inspiration comes for one of the hotel’s themed parties from yesteryear held at The Surf Club – España, and uses two main ingredients from Spain : Sherry and Apples.
0.5 oz Grey goose vodka,
0.5 oz. Bitter luxardo
1 oz rectified apple
1 oz palo Cortado Sherry
Build: Mix all ingredients in a mixing Glass and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with apple tuile, apple gel and Egyptian flowers
This cranberry and orange cocktail from BLVD would be beautiful at any Thanksgiving happy hour.
1.25oz Castle and Key Roots of Ruin Gin
.5 oz Frankly Organic Vodka
.75 Mulled Cranberry Juice
.5 PÜR Blood Orange Liqueur
.25 Simple Syrup
.75 lime juice
Mulled cranberry juice:
32oz cranberry juice
8 whole clove
1 star anise
10 whole cardamom pods
3 sticks of cinnamon
Grind spices with mortar and pestle. Combine with cranberry juice in a sauce pot and simmer for 45 minutes.
Build: Shake cocktail with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange swath studded with clove.
Fall isn’t all apples and pumpkins. Take a trip to the Dominican Republic with the Global Entry, where passion fruit reigns supreme. Following a vine to bottle philosophy, Chinola, as the passion fruit is referred to by locals in the Dominican Republic, contains about six whole passion fruits per bottle, all of which are sustainably grown along the northern coast in the Samaná peninsula. This autumn, why not get tropical?
0.75 oz Chinola
0.75 oz Rye Whisky
0.5 oz Averna Amaro
0.5 oz Agave Nectar
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 Orange Slice for Garnish
Build: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain into a glass with fresh ice and garnish with an orange slice.
Japanese cuisine relies heavily on koji, Japan’s national fungus that is instrumental in fermentation. Domesticated more than 9,000 years ago, koji fermentation is the basis of sake, soy sauce, miso, and mirin, and even whiskey. In 1891, Japanese-American chemist Jokichi Takamine was the first to apply koji fermentation to whiskey making, finding that koji saccharifies barley more than twice as efficiently as malting. Takamine Whiskey, a 100% Japanese whiskey made by the Shinozake Distillery in Fukuoka, pays homage to that discovery. Charlie Schott, beverage director for the Land & Sea Dept., created a fall cocktail with Takamine sure to wake you from hibernation.
1.25 ounce Takamine 8 Year Koji Whiskey
0.75 ounce BroVo Jammy vermouth
0.75 ounce Hotel Tango Montmorency Cherry Liqueur
0.75 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
Build: Add Takamine, vermouth, cherry liqueur, and orange juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel.