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Recipes for Yummy Fall Cocktails
Recipes for Yummy Fall Cocktails
Kala Brooks is a self proclaimed "Cocktail Nerd" who has spent many nights on the back side of bars for nearly ten years. Beginning her career in the post '90s martini boom, she immediately developed...
This time of the year really makes me think about everything I enjoy about the fall. If there's one thing I love, it's shoving pumpkin spice and apple cider into anything possibly consumable by man. Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes that have stuck with me, and help to soothe the loss of summer. Whether it's curling up by a bonfire, mountain walks through orange leaves, rediscovering your favorite scarves, or just diving into something comforting and spicy, surely one of these recipes will inspire your thirst and get your creative juices flowing. I love autumnal spices so much that I waited weeks after pumpkin beers began popping up on tap handles, delaying even a single taste of fizzy sour nutmeg and all spice until
The Thirsty Monk's
annual "Pumpkin Beer-Tap Take Over". Perhaps I've just been hoping to prolong summer by sipping wheats and ales as long as possible, but by now I'm pretty sure I have tried almost all of them, which I will gladly accept you interpreting as "Every pumpkin beer known to man". You're going to be sensing a theme here pretty quickly, and on a base level, I'm pretty sure it's entirely pie related. I have always loved
and that smell in the air. The awesome thing about these recipes is once you stock your pantry, you can mix them up in many different ways. You're going to need
and lots of it. You can make it, or buy it. Either way it's not cheap but good quality stuff is worth the extra scratch because the sharpness of real ginger, not artificial flavorings, and real sugar not corn syrup, is key. One thing that can be difficult for any artistically inclined person to deal with is that most things under the sun have already been conceived or perhaps published before your completely independent thought or artistic vision ever came along. Cocktails can be the worst for this. Even in cooking, your combination of succulent flavors is still plainly described by ingredients on a menu. 'Broiled rosemary chicken, buttered turnips, whipped potato'. A chef can become known for creating interesting flavor combinations leaning towards a certain style or ingredient list in order to influence your palate. Unless you're speaking of something as specific as
Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 Eggs Benedict
, they don't get flashy names. You can't copyright all of your recipes. And usually when you have a stroke of tipple genius, when you type it in, someone else has thought of it, and already posted it on a random website. It probably even has a cooler name than yours, and there goes all your street cred! You just hope that your perfectly well balanced proportions are different enough from theirs that it's still yours.
The Cider Diaz
(pictured directly below) is one such story. Years ago I was researching different classes of classic cocktails and discovered the Diaz, which usually features apple juice. In the bar we had a syrup previously used in a tequila drink, and I still make it in the fall to this day. My version was much less generic than the "Vanilla flavored vodka and store bought ginger ale" recipes online and now mine is the one that usually pops up when you type it in. It's a light lovely cocktail that can be spiced specifically to your palate's approval. Generally, I'd say it tastes like spicy apple pie, hopefully served in a tall pretty glass.
The Cider Diaz 1.5 oz Vodka (Go big! Actually just go medium big, I like
) .25 oz Cinnamon Cayenne Turbinado Syrup .25 oz Lemon .75-1.25 oz Strong Ginger Beer (
, or Home Made) 1 oz Apple Cider (Local is best, not too spiced) 5 drops Real Vanilla Extract (Mine is Madagascar)
Shake and strain over ice
Top with a splash of carbonated water (the kids call it "soda") and grate a bit of cinnamon stick and nutmeg on top.
is another one that's served me very well. It's easy to make, and people love it. It has a lovely balance of flavors, which really meld together. There was a cool article of me making one in
around this time last year. The directions printed were a little unclear, so here's the best way to make magic happen: In your chilled glass, muddle a good sized piece of candied ginger with lemon, honey syrup, and angostura bitters until it's really dissolved and broken apart. It takes awhile. Add plenty of ice. Add bourbon. Add cider. And stir. It's so easy! Check out the full article
The Harvest Moon
(pictured directly below) is one of my all time favorite top drinks, much to the frustrated chagrin of many bartenders who have had to create the recipe I scribbled onto a cocktail napkin. This drink was written by a 'Big Apple' bartender at a speakeasy type joint aptly named
(Please Don't Tell). It's accessed through an inconspicuous phone booth in the back of a hot dog stand. I don't order it too often; it's expensive so unless I'm in the presence of a talented mixing maestro- I'm just too skittish to trust it. It's as easy to make as following a simple measured recipe, and requires no complicated syrups or advance planning, but it's not one you could make easily at home unless you just have an amazingly well stocked bar. (If that's the case we should chat!) Without the bitters costs alone, buying the bottles for this one will set you back around $130. Speaking of bitters, this recipe calls for
which are basically extinct. I just substitute a whisper of Angostura, and around two drops Boker's Bitters, which can easily be purchased locally. If you can get past all of those obstacles, the drink is quite simple: Stir Rye Whiskey, Lillet Blanc, Apple Brandy, Chartreuse, and bitters on ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist rubbed around the glass. The Harvest Moon 1.5 ounces
Wild Turkey Rye
Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3 dashes Abbott's or Angostura bitters. Garnish: orange twist
Now that you're feeling inspired and you've got all these extra things lying around, it's time to get cooking. The cinnamon & cayenne turbinado syrup is a quick recipe and can be used in many drinks, baking, breakfast or desserts. Just start a pot of water to boil and add a bunch of cinnamon and cayenne. You really can't mess it up. Not scientific enough for you? For a small batch start with two and a half cups water. Add 2-3 TBS raw cinnamon bark. You could also use several small jars of dried cinnamon sticks, but they cost a lot more. I like to add a few dried sticks in at the end and leave them in the mix when I store it, just to keep that extra complexity of flavor tasting sharp. In a pinch you could use powdered cinnamon, and the flavor will work almost as well but with a bit more effort. This will make your mixture very grainy and unpleasant in the mouth and needs much more cooking and a lot more straining. Add your cayenne. When dealing with peppers, the intensity can vary intensely from pepper to pepper, so start with 3 sliced, seeds and all in the pot, then about half way through, add one or two more to achieve the heat you're looking for. Again you can also use the dried and powdered stuff in the pantry, but after you cook it off, you really need to strain it excessively through a cheesecloth until you get a smooth consistency. Almost always, sugar syrups are a 1:1 ratio, but in the case of extreme heating in a small batch, I allow for about a half cup of water for evaporation. Add two cups of turbinado sugar once it begins to boil and let it lightly simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy! Your new syrup will last about two weeks. Add a splash of Bacardi 151 and you can add another week or more to it's shelf life.
Another super easy drink is
The Horse's Neck with a Kick
(pictured directly above). It's named such because it features a really cool long lemon peel wrapped around the inside of the glass. It's a quick garnish to pull off with a sharp vegetable peeler that will really impress your friends. Type it into "Images" on your search engine and you'll see many variations on what I mean. You just peel a whole lemon around and around the fruit in one long thick strip, wipe the outside of the glass with inside of the peel, and press it along the inside of the glass. It's easiest if you just pack it with a little bit of ice as you go up, to hold the rind in place up the spiral. In a separate mixing glass add 2oz of whiskey (I like
), 1.5 oz of Strong Ginger Beer, 3-4 hearty dashes of Aromatic Bitters (I use '
Hella Aromatic Bitters
'). Then without shaking or anything, just pour it back over the ice in the other glass on top of your newly artistic looking libation. I would also encourage you to experiment with a classic
(pictured below). This syrup is awesome and with a little lemon and a big splash of hot water, add 2 oz of strong whiskey, you've got yourself an instant tipple! (Well technically you still have a toddy, but that's a whole other story in the history of cocktail vocabulary). I use
Wild Turkey 101
in mine, because I appreciate the extra proof, especially in the cold weather. This one's great in a pinch when the fridge is bare. Add some ginger, add some herbs, add that cider you have laying around! Stuff Cloves into lemons! Get crazy! It's your cocktail!! (er.. Toddy!!) Now you are ready to blow all your friends minds with one serious cocktail party, or maybe just an amazing Saturday afternoon. Perhaps you'll even come up with some cool libations of your own. I'd love to hear all about them! Right now I'm hard at work designing a fizz that tastes like both pumpkin and candy corn using goat cheese and cream saturated in buttered popcorn and a bourbon drink with bright citrus, several custom bitters, and a local harvest ale with a pie spiced rim. I have my Halloween Menu up and running, so on up and see me.
Ryan Stuart Burns
Kala Brooks Asheville
Top of the Monk
Asheville Cocktail Queen
Asheville bar scene
Asheville craft cocktails
Ryan Stewart Burns
Please Dont Tell NY
New Mountain Asheville
asheville music hall