It’s finally fall and you can feel the change of seasons as the air gets a little more brisk and you start craving comfort food packed with earthy, warm flavors—cue the fall drinks. And just as you trade in your swimsuits and smoothies for sweaters and soup, this new season means a change in your drinking habits as well. But for those of us who don’t want to kiss our favorite fruity drinks goodbye, there’s still hope. Some of the best autumn cocktails are a perfect blend of fresh summery ingredients mixed with warming fall flavors. If you’re not sure where to begin, we’re here to help you craft the perfect autumn cocktail so you can ease into the season.
It’s often hard to say what makes a great cocktail, since cocktail preferences (like food choices) are so subjective. But as Food & Wine reports, according to Jim Meehan, mixologist, head bartender at PDT and author of The PDT Cocktail Book, “a drink is fundamentally a glass, liquid, ice and a garnish. So all four of those elements are important.” Don’t skimp on quality liquor, always opt for fresh ingredients and don’t overlook the importance of your glassware—it makes a big impact. Beyond that, think about the flavors and ingredients you like, and choose a drink that speaks to you. Here are 10 delicious fall drinks to try, with a little something for everyone, even those of us who aren’t totally ready to let go of summer.
1. Stone Wall
Anything that uses apple cider automatically feels like fall—it’s up there with apple pie, sweet potatoes and pretty much anything involving pumpkin. This fall cocktail mixes the cider with rum and ginger beer, and the result is a cocktail that is equal parts refreshing, sweet, balanced and comforting.
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2. Harvest Margarita
Margaritas are the perfect summer cocktail, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also delicious in fall, winter, and basically any day of the year. This take on the classic tequila cocktail is unique thanks to the spiced syrup that is loaded with flavor from the combination of allspice, cloves, cinnamon and ginger.
The key ingredients in a sidecar are pretty simple: lemon juice, cognac and Cointreau. It’s a classic cocktail that perfectly balances sweetness with citrus flavors against the brandy, which makes it an excellent choice for fall. It’s not too fruity and not too heavy, and the deep yellow color looks like it is meant to match the changing color of the leaves outside.
4. Rosemary Lemon Spritzer
There’s something about a spritzer cocktail that is instantly refreshing, regardless of the other ingredients used. The rosemary and lemon is surprising when used to create a delicious syrup, and since you use so much sparkling water for this cocktail you don’t have to feel bad about pouring a second glass.
5. Hard Cider Sangria
Sangria isn’t just a great drink to enjoy poolside; it’s also delicious in the fall, especially when you kick it up a notch by using hard cider and apple brandy for your base. Yum. And also, drink with caution—this sangria goes down smooth.
6. Ginger Cranberry Cocktail
What happens when you mix ginger syrup with frozen cranberries and vodka? You get a drink so versatile that it will become your next go-to cocktail of choice. The cranberries add a tart flavor perfect for the season, and the ginger syrup adds a little sweetness without going overboard. And the best part is you can mix this drink to suit your preference…it works with gin or vodka, served over ice or as a martini, with or without club soda…take your pick and enjoy!
7. La Rose Ola (from Redfarm in New York City)
This cocktail created by Shawn Chen, mixologist at Redfarm restaurant in New York City is interesting; it’s a little sweet, a little tart and a little spicy. When it’s all put together the balance between the pomegranate liqueur and the Thai chili leaves you with a cocktail that will satisfy you, keep you warm and make you want more.
8. Old Fashioned
This classic drink dates back to the 1800s, and it is still a fan favorite among whiskey lovers and basically anyone who appreciates a well-balanced cocktail. The use of Angostura Bitters (which contain over 40 ingredients including vegetable flavoring extracts and a bitter root essence) mixed with the orange peel and rye or bourbon results in a drink that warms you from the inside out—perfect for a brisk fall day.
9. New York Sour
When the temps outside start to drop you might find yourself craving liquor of the whiskey variety. And this cocktail is the perfect mix of whiskey (try rye or bourbon, and if you’ve never tried rye whiskey now is the perfect time) with lemon juice and simple syrup. Nothing complicated or overly fancy about this drink—just a tasty, balanced cocktail that is taken to another level of gorgeous (and delicious) thanks to the red wine float you pour on top. Your friends will be really impressed when you whip this up or order it at your next outing.
10. Autumn Punch
Fruit punch isn’t just for kids and it’s not just for summer picnics either. This punch takes traditional fruity flavors and adds an autumnal twist by using cranberry-apple juice mixed with plums, white wine and then cloves and vanilla bean. The outcome is a drink that is refreshing and a little sweet but also undeniably seasonal.
Photos 2, 4 & 6 courtesy of Food Network.com