Sugar & Spice: Fall Cocktails

Sugar & Spice and all things nice, that’s what fall cocktails are made of…

sugar-spice-cocktailChanging seasons require a change in your cocktail menu, but reinventing a list four times a year means a great deal of work. Perhaps you don’t have the time to completely recreate a selection of drinks, so why not consider a “makeover” of your summer drinks and get them ready to roll for the fall season.

A lot of great cocktails these days are twists on a classic recipe.  Switch in pomegranate juice in a Cosmopolitan, add pressed apple juice to a Tom Collins or muddle apricots in a Sidecar.  A quick and easy way to craft a great fall menu is to make sure that these twists are brought in the way of warm, spicy, comforting flavors.

As the fall draws on try muddling fresh pineapple with ginger root for a warm and spicy margarita, or matching mango and freshly grated cinnamon to heat up a flavorsome, while still refreshing, Mojito. Or try a subtle cardamom pod muddled in with fresh pear, rich honey, and a dash of lemon juice with vodka for a seasonal change to the Apple Martini.

How do you know which ingredients will warm up a cocktail?  Get to know the base spirit and take direction from the flavor profile to build a cocktail. Take gin as example: an invigorating flavor like cucumber is perfect for summer drinks but an understanding of the complete botanical recipe of a gin will allow flavors like coriander, elderflower and citrus to inspire a cocktail.

Consider that the cocktail is an experience of the senses… an opportunity to introduce the seasons at different stages throughout that experience.  If the first “sip” is with the eye then the second must surely be enjoyed through the sense of smell.  Freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, basil or mint adorning a cocktail adds an enormous amount to the experience, especially when the sprig of mint or basil is positioned correctly, next to the straw, in a long drink.

Herbs and spices steer cocktails a little more towards the savory, and thus present the opportunity of food pairing.  There is something fun and flirtatious in the idea of a food dish with a slightly muted herb or spice component that invites a cocktail in to complement that subtlety with a flavor profile of its own, in a way perhaps more definite and flexible than wine.

So think about a setting a template for your cocktail list, with drinks that represent a variety of spirits and let the seasons dictate the changing flavor profiles. This will bring identity to the cocktail experience in your bar and might just save you a little work too!

Autumnal Martini

1½ oz.Reyka Vodka
¾ oz.Berentzen’s Peerkorn
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, optional garnish of a thin slice of fresh pear.

Vanilla Berry Blush

2 ½ oz Lillet Rouge
¼ oz Balvenie 15 yr
¾ oz vanilla syrup
Squeeze fresh orange

Pineapple & Ginger Margarita

1½ oz. Milagro Reposado
¾ oz. Bols Triple Sec
1½ oz. fresh pineapple
2 slices ginger root
1 heavy bar spoon agave nectar
½ oz lime juice
Muddle ginger root with agave nectar, add other ingredients and shake very well, serve up or on the rocks with a lime wheel garnish.

Mango & Cinnamon Mojito

1½ oz. Sailor Jerry
1½ oz. mango puree
½ oz. cinnamon syrup
8-10 mint leaves
½ oz fresh lime
Splash soda
Press mint leaves with cinnamon syrup and fresh lime juice, add mango puree, rum and crushed ice, shake briefly and pour into highall glass, garnish with a sprig of mint and a cinnamon stick.

Elderflower Collins

1½ oz. Hendrick’s Gin
1 oz. Lillet Blan
½ oz. Elderflower cordial
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
Fill with soda
Build ingredients in order above cubed ice in a Collins glass, stir well and serve with an edible flower garnish.