We use cookies to track your browsing behavior on our site and provide ads relevant to you. You can opt out by disabling cookies in your browser. To learn more, see our privacy policy.

The Hot List: Fall Cocktail Ingredients

Contributed by

Every year, around mid- to late July, the emails and phone calls start. It’s the journalists. This is how it generally goes: “Hey, hope your summer is going well. I am writing a piece about fall cocktails. What do you plan to offer this time?”

And once again, I’m caught off-guard, trying to turn the wheels of my mind and desperately failing to come up with an answer.


Here I am, enjoying my summer, drinking refreshing, long cocktails and beer, and you expect me to think about autumn? It’s just that I don’t make drinks that way. Inventing cocktails for me is not purely a mental exercise. To create a seasonal recipe, I need to be in that season. I need to taste which ingredients are ripe.

And now that it’s fall, what’s so special about the season’s cocktails, anyway? Well, for starters, a large selection of produce is plentiful in most of the United States, from apples, grapes, plums and pears to quince and figs. The fruit alone is more than enough  inspiration, but that’s not to mention herbs including sage, rosemary and thyme—or fresh cranberries.

Autumn lasts for just 13 weeks and goes from more to less pleasant weather. As the season changes, so do our cocktail choices. What worked in September might not be as good in November. During the early part of fall, lighter spirits and tipples are usually in order, while the later part begs for robust and warm flavors.

I like to pair gin with pears and apples, but that’s really a no-brainer since they work well together. The liquor can also be used with cranberries in very exciting ways. And the grape brandy pisco is beautiful with Concord grapes (available only for a few weeks) or figs. Bourbon can easily mix with quince, either raw or as a marmalade, and cognacs play nicely with plums.

Here are some of the fall cocktail recipes we’ll be serving at my New York bar Macao Trading Co. Enjoy!

Tesla Coilins

Contributed by Ivan Radulovic and Danilo Bozovic

  • 1.75 oz Slivovitz or other aged plum brandy
  • 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz Vanilla Citrus Honey Syrup*
  • .75 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • 1.5 oz Club soda
  • Garnish: Purple plum half
  • Glass: Collins

Add all the ingredients except the club soda to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake very hard and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with the club soda and garnish with half of a purple plum.


Vanilla Citrus Honey Syrup

  • 1 Vanilla bean
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1.5 cup Acacia honey
  • Peels of 8 oranges

Score the vanilla bean and scrape out the pulp using the tip of a knife. Add the pulp and bean to a small saucepan along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool completely and strain into a quart container.

Shanghai Express

Contributed by Ivan Radulovic and Danilo Bozovic

  • 4 wedges Green apple
  • 1 Fresh sage leaf
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz St-Germain
  • 1.5 oz Ford’s Gin
  • Garnish: Starfruit slice
  • Glass: Large rocks

In a shaker, muddle the apple, sage and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake hard and double-strain into a large rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a starfruit slice.

The Gilbert Cocktail

Contributed by Ivan Radulovic and Danilo Bozovic

  • 10 Red Concord grapes
  • 1 oz BarSol Mosto Verde Italia Pisco
  • 1.5 oz Chardonnay (lightly oaked)
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Rich simple syrup (two parts sugar, one part water)
  • Garnish: Champagne grapes
  • Glass: Coupe

In a shaker, muddle the grapes. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake hard and double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with Champagne grapes.


Dust off your party equipment. Start stocking the bar. Call—or text—your pals: It’s Party Season, the perfect time of year to show off your well-honed hosting skills and bring all your favorite people together.

Dushan Zaric is co-owner of The 86 Co., and the co-author of Speakeasy. He is also a Liquor.com advisory board member.

Still Thirsty? Sign Up for the Liquor.com Newsletter

Get more stories, news, recipes and more delivered straight to your inbox.

From our Friends

Follow us on Instagram