As the leaves begin to change, bartenders across the country have started mixing up autumn-ready cocktails with pumpkin, cider and, of course, maple syrup. Though the harvest season for maple starts in the winter, using the sweet, spiced goodness in a drink is a surefire way to make a cocktail scream fall. From maple-bacon sippers to a boozy, drinkable pancake, these are the seven best maple syrup cocktails to drink in bars right now.
At his spice-heavy cocktail emporium, bar man Nico de Soto whips up a even more refreshing take on the Stone Fence, a two-ingredient autumnal classic traditionally made using two ounces of spirit topped with apple cider. In De Soto’s take, a curious but mild marshmallow-milk-washed bourbon is mixed with sweet carrot acid and a house-made ginger-maple syrup, then finished with a crisp AVAL Cidre Artisanal.
It’s fitting that this charming French-inspired neighborhood eatery would jigger up a drink inspired by pancakes. Bar man Erik Inda refers to his creation as a “drinkable blueberry pancake that comes with a polite buzz.” And he’s not wrong: A five-day, house-infused blueberry vodka is literally fortified with buttermilk, a whole egg and vanilla; and in place of fruity compotes, Inda uses maple and pomegranate syrups. The mix is dry-shaken first, then shaken with ice, strained into a coupe and garnished with swirls of Angostura bitters. It’s boozy breakfast on a whole new level.
This Italian trattoria in the capital is known for its rustic, regionally focused fare and notable wine program. Beyond vinos, however, is an excellent cocktail program by Italian-born bar veteran Luca Giovannini, who fuses his background in elevated European hospitality with classic American cocktailing. In this simple spirit-forward number, he accents cognac with the sweetness of a pear-laced maple syrup, the aromatic oils of a muddled orange peel and a balancing splash of bitters.
As any chicken-and-waffle fan will tell you, maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes—it can also make your favorite savory dish all the more indulgent. At this elegant bar tucked inside the lobby of an ultra-revamped Marriott, “manager of drink” Todd Bayley taps into this sweet-versus-savory magic, creating a highly addictive house bacon mix using apple juice, maple syrup and salty-sweet bacon jam. That mix is sloshed with a base of Sazerac rye and garnished with an oven-roasted apple wheel in a rocks glass for a fun yet complex sip.
The name of this drink, an annual cold-weather favorite of the sustainability-focused eatery, references the way the grated ginger floats after being shaken and strained with the other ingredients. Bartender Robbie Wilson balances Old Overholt rye with splashes of maple syrup and Tuaca, an Italian vanilla-citrus liqueur—all rounded out by the boisterous ginger and a couple of dashes of orange bitters.
Located in Orange County, this chic gastropub serves up chef-driven takes on Southern comfort food with cocktails to match. Rather than sloshing this fizz with maple syrup directly, drinks man Matt Sharp infuses it into Buffalo Trace bourbon—though, he notes, Knob Creek bottles a pretty good maple-infused whiskey. As with any fizz, that whiskey is mixed with a lemon-infused simple syrup and an egg white for additional thickness. Crowning the top is Angostura bitters and a bacon skewer.
Whispered with notes of vanilla and nuttiness, this spirit-forward cocktail by Brett Esler makes for the ideal autumnal sip. The bartender doubles up on a Spanish sherry motif with Papa’s Pilar 3-year-old rum—a blond rum finished in Spanish sherry casks—and Lustau Amontillado los Arcos, a dry, nutty and slightly woody expression. Maple syrup and dashes of acid phosphate round out the mix, which is stirred and poured into an allspice-rinsed glass for an additional hint of fragrance.