Fall is famous for its annual beer festivals, but there’s no need to get stuck in an Oktoberfest rut. From the classic to the obscure, curious imbibers will find plenty of delicious seasonal options beyond massive mugs of lager. As summer fades and the weather starts to turn cool, cocktail fans can look forward to richer, more flavorful drinks that excel at shaking off autumn’s chill.
With good cause, whiskey is often recommended as a great choice for cold-weather mixed drinks. But there are plenty of other fall recipes that eschew the seasonal favorite in favor of less common gin, tequila, and vodka, which offer unexpected flavors to savor as the leaves turn color.
Improved Whiskey Cocktail
Mentioned in “The Bar-Tender’s Guide” of 1887, this then-modern cocktail — and currently overlooked classic — uses both absinthe and Maraschino, two novelties at the time of its invention. The cherry flavors of the Maraschino liqueur will play off the spiciness of a high-rye whiskey like Bulleit Bourbon, while a touch of sugar adds a much-needed caloric boost for a cold autumn evening.
1 1/2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
1 sugar cube or 1 bar spoon sugar
1 bar spoon Maraschino liqueur
1 dash aromatic bitters
1 dash licorice or cherry bitters
1 dash absinthe
Citrus peel, for garnish
In an Old Fashioned or rocks glass, muddle sugar with bitters, Maraschino liqueur, and absinthe.
Add Bulleit Bourbon and stir.
Add a large block of ice and stir until chilled.
Garnish with citrus peel and serve.
Perfect for pairing with huevos rancheros or other savory brunch dishes, this tequila-based variation of the Bloody Mary comes with a peppery kick. The bright citrus flavors from the fresh lemon juice and the lime wedge garnish will pick up the citrus and agave notes in a great 100 percent agave tequila like Don Julio Blanco Tequila.
1 1/2 ounces Don Julio Blanco Tequila
3 ounces tomato juice
2 bar spoons fresh lemon juice
1 bar spoon prepared horseradish, to taste
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes chili sauce
1 pinch celery salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Lime wedge, celery sticks, sliced cucumber, and freshly sliced jalapeños, as garnish
Muddle the lemon piece in a cocktail shaker.
Add Don Julio Blanco tequila, tomato juice, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, chili/hot sauce, celery salt, and black pepper to a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake briefly to combine and strain into a pint glass or highball glass filled with fresh ice.
Garnish and serve.
Revered for a reason, Negronis are great any time of year, but the bittersweet richness of the drink speaks loudest with the arrival of sweater weather. If you can find a decent Campari rival (e.g., Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter, Luxardo Bitter, or Galliano L’Aperitivo), knock yourself out. A great base like Tanqueray London Dry Gin will add aromatic complexity that elevates the drink’s intriguing interplay of bitter and sweet.
1 ounce Tanqueray London Dry Gin
1 ounce aperitif
1 ounce sweet red vermouth
Orange wedge, for garnish
Fill an Old Fashioned or rocks glass with ice.
Add Tanqueray London Dry Gin, aperitif, and sweet red vermouth to the serving glass and stir until chilled.
Garnish with orange wedge and serve.
Reposado Old Fashioned
A beloved standard with an agave twist, this recipe shows how simple ingredients can produce incredible complexity, playing the citrus notes in the tequila against the orange peel garnish and contrasting the spirit’s fruit flavors against the spicy bitters. For even more complexity, consider making a variation with an even longer-aged tequila like Don Julio Añejo, whose nuanced oak and vanilla notes will last longer than an October sunset.
1 1/2 ounces Don Julio Reposado Tequila
1 bar spoon simple syrup
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Orange peel, for garnish
Over an Old Fashioned serving glass, cut the orange peel garnish with a wide-mouthed vegetable peeler and express the oils into the glass.
Add Don Julio Reposado, simple syrup, bitters, and a single large block of ice (or multiple smaller ice cubes) to the Old Fashioned serving glass.
Stir well until chilled.
Garnish with orange peel and serve.
Richer, more warming and less austere than a traditional Martini, this French variation dates from the bustling downtown scene of 1980s NYC. Though perfect for cooler weather, it also offers a sweet memory of summer, thanks to the inclusion of raspberry liqueur, which complements the gentle sweetness in the finish of Ketel One Vodka.
1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1/2 ounce raspberry liqueur
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
Lemon peel, for garnish
Add Ketel One Vodka, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice, and ice to a cocktail shaker.
Shake well until chilled.
Strain into a cocktail glass.
Express the oils from the lemon peel over the glass.
Garnish with lemon peel and serve.
Channel your inner Lebowski with a “Caucasian,” as the Dude calls them. Depending on how cold it is (and thus how many calories you’ll need to stay warm), you can make this recipe with cream, half-and-half, or milk; for a vegan version, substitute coconut milk, soy creamer, or a 50-50 blend of almond milk and soy cream. Known for its honey and wheat notes, Ketel One Vodka adds a silky texture to this modern classic.
1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh cream, half-and-half, or milk, to taste
Fill an Old Fashioned or other serving glass with ice.
Pour Ketel One vodka and coffee liqueur over the ice into the serving glass.
Float fresh cream, half-and-half, or milk on top and serve.
This article is sponsored by Diageo.