It’s a month into fall and it’s time to consider less summery drinks and move from lighter-colored spirits to the dark side, from vodkas and light rums to bourbons and other whiskeys. The cooler climate begs for smoky liquors and deeper, earthier flavors and there are so many exciting new bourbons (from all over the United States, it seems) that would create some fall drinks with spicy richness. There has been a trend in the last few years to make everything pumpkin-flavored, as soon as possible. I am not such a fan of this form of pumpkin, so I’ll subtitle this guide to autumn cocktails “With No Pumpkin Added!”
To get some fresh perspective I took this quest to my Facebook feed and got loads of possible cool weather cocktails. The two most popular answers as to how one should enjoy bourbon were “neat” and in an “Old Fashioned.” Bourbon, neat, is not much of a recipe since it is bourbon alone, and Old Fashioneds are pretty well known, so here is a riff off of an Old Fashioned, the Vieux Carré.
Named for The French Quarter in New Orleans, here is a classic cocktail using rye whiskey and French Cognac, bringing together my American and French ancestry in one delicious package. I use an orange twist to be more autumnal and maybe even a cinnamon stick, though that is tres gauche.
¾ oz Rye Whiskey
¾ oz Cognac
¾ oz Sweet Vermouth
1 tsp Bènèdictine Liqueur
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Place a cocktail glass in the freezer to chill. Into a mixing glass pour the whiskey, Cognac and vermouth. Then add the Bènèdictine liqueur and then both bitters and fill the glass halfway with ice. Stir with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds and strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Rub the orange twist around the rim, drop it in and serve.
To lighten it up a little and to honor my childhood of bobbing for apples, eating candied apples and drinking fresh apple cider this time of year, as well as to toast my mother’s French heritage, here is a French Hard Cider Sangria. You’ll need a 22-oz hard cider for this recipe. It can be French or not and you can even use pear cider. France’s apple brandy, Calvados, bumps up the flavor, with a drier, apple heat, though American Applejack works just as well. To balance the alcohol you have sweet fresh fruit and some citrus tang.
French Hard Cider Sangria
22 oz Hard Cider
¼ cup of Calvados
1 cup Apple Juice
1 cup Apples, sliced thin (can be any type you choose, though green will make it more tart)
1 cup Pears, sliced thin (again, can be any type you choose that is fresh)
1 Lemon, thinly sliced
¼ cup Lemon Juice, fresh
Mix ingredients in a large pitcher and let the flavors marinate in your fridge a few hours before serving, cold, in a tall glass so you can see all the beautiful fruit.
Come up with your own little way to celebrate fall, and if you love it, use all the pumpkin flavors you want! Cheers!
Daniel Eddy, Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinedane