You guys, pumpkin spice lattes aren’t the only drinks that get the spotlight this time of year. Fall, while one of my favorite seasons to travel and get outdoors, is also one of my favorite time of years for seasonal cocktails. In the fall, I feel like you can just throw a bunch of your favorite fruits (like apples and pears) and spices (like cinnamon and nutmeg) into a glass before adding a spirit, citrus, and sweetener, and voila, you have yourself a delicious cocktail, either warm or cold.
Alright, so perhaps it takes a little bit more then just throwing whatever you have lying around into a cocktail glass. But even still, autumn cocktails are unique because they can be so versatile and complex than many seasonal drinks the rest of the year. They can be warm or cold, sweet or savory, spicy or spiced, and much more.
By and large, when I’m making fall cocktail recipes, they’ll have some combination of autumn fruits (apples or pears), autumn herbs/spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, thyme), and other ingredients often associated with fall, such as maple syrup, honey, and cider. You can plan around with these combos to nail down your go-to fall cocktail. But enough chitchat, let’s get this fall cocktail party started.
Fall Cocktails Recipes
Maple Old Fashioned
As if my favorite cocktail could be any more delicious than it already is. The Maple Old Fashioned is an alternative to the traditional Old Fashioned cocktail recipe, substituting sugar with maple syrup (yes, please). I follow Difford’s method of building this cocktail, which gradually adds ice to reach proper dilution when stirring rather than adding all of it at once. You’ll begin by adding a shot of bourbon to a glass with a couple pieces of ice and stirring. After a number of stirs (10 seconds you can call it), add the maple syrup, bitters, and two more pieces of ice, and continue stirring. Remove the ice and add fresh ice, or an ice sphere, and garnish with an orange twist.
Classic Warm Whiskey Cider
- 2.5 oz. cider
- 1 oz. bourbon
- 2 tsp. honey
- Autumn spices (Cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise)
- Apple slices (optional)
This is essentially your classic warm whiskey cider cocktail recipe, and perhaps the easiest, most delicious, warm fall cocktail recipe you can make. To make this warm whiskey cider cocktail, you’ll add the cider (hard or otherwise), honey, and spices to a saucepan and warm. For extra flavors of apple, add a couple apple slices, pressing the apple in the saucepan a couple times to release the juices. After letting it warm for 5-10 minutes, add the bourbon, and remove from heat and serve in a heat-resistant glass or mug. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and apple.
A Fine Mess
- 2 oz. anejo tequila
- .5 oz. orange liqueur
- .5 oz. sweet vermouth
- .25 oz maple syrup
- 2 dash orange bitters
- 2 dash bitters (such as Angostura bitters)
I actually made this cocktail by accident, trying to recreate the Another Fine Mes cocktail from cocktail expert Gary Regan. But then this guy forgot to add bourbon and added too much anejo tequila. But what resulted was a fine cocktail even still. To make it, you’ll add all of the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange.
- 2 oz. mezcal
- .75 oz. lime juice
- .75 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
- 2-3 slices, gala apples
- Sweet and savory rim concoction (1 tbsp. of salt, brown sugar, and nutmeg, and 1 tsp. of chili powder)
While there are only a few ingredients in this fall cocktail recipe, it takes a little bit more elbow grease then some of these others, between making the rim garnish and muddling the apples. To make the sweet and savory rim, you’ll add a combination of salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, and just a little chili powder to a saucer and mix it. You’ll moisten the rim of a rocks glass with an apple slice (or other slice of fruit), and then set the rim of the glass on the plate, wiggling it around until the entire edge of the rim is coated with the sugar and spice combo. To make the actual cocktail, you’ll begin by muddling a couple apple slices in a cocktail shaker and discarding the apples. Finally, add the mezcal, lime juice, honey syrup, and ice to the cocktail shaker and shake. Strain it over ice into the rocks glass and garnish with a lime or apple slice.
- 2 oz. spiced rum
- .75 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
- .75 oz. lemon
- Dash of bitters
- Sparkling pear cider
On those warmer autumn days, this fall cocktail recipe is a nice refresher. However, pear sparkling cider may not be an everyday occurrence in your kitchen or on the shelves of your local convenience store, so whatever sparkling cider you find will do. To make it, add all of the ingredients (except the cider) to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with sparkling cider.
Thyme Bee’s Knees
Last year around this time I featured my friends at Salt & Wind for their Sage Bee’s Knees, an autumn take on one of the easiest, most classic gin cocktails. Well this time I’m taking that same recipe and subbing it with thyme and a thyme syrup. For the honey thyme syrup, you’ll bring equal parts honey and water to a boil and then let it cool, adding several pieces of thyme, and letting it steep for 30 minutes. If using more like a 1/2 cup each of honey and water, then a few pieces of thyme will suffice, but if making a bigger batch, such as a cup each of honey and water, then add several more thyme sprigs. You’ll then add the gin, lemon juice, and honey thyme syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (up or over ice) and garnish with a sprig of thyme.
The Nor’easter is basically the Moscow mule of New England come fall. And if you ask me, has much more merits than the traditional mule cocktails that most people are familiar with (hello, maple syrup). To make the Nor’easter cocktail recipe, combine bourbon, maple syrup, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake. Strain it into a glass filled with ice and top with ginger beer.
What are your favorite fall cocktail recipes?