Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Bourbon Cocktails

Fallen Leaf

A glass tea mug with a curved handle rests on a worn leather book. The drink within is dark orange with a floating lemon wheel.
Image: Jessica Fradono

When it comes to warming cocktails that ward off chill weather, nothing quite beats a Hot Toddy. And like any relatively simple concoction, the Toddy is also an opportunity for bartenders to play, tweaking elements and adding or swapping ingredients. Once such take on the classic drink is the Fallen Leaf; this warming libation comes from Austin bartender Brett Esler, who developed it while working at the rustic cocktail bar, Whisler’s. It gets a nice spice from ginger liqueur, a round sweetness from house-made honey syrup and plenty of spice from cinnamon and allspice.

Bourbon serves as this cocktail’s base, which is a fairly standard way to go. Esler uses Elijah Craig small-batch bourbon, but another good bourbon can stand in its place. Similarly, the brandy he uses is Lustau’s brandy de Jerez, a type of brandy made in the solera system. If you switch things up you’ll want to stick to Spanish brandies, preferably in the solera style, if you want your Fallen Leaf to taste like Esler’s version.

Far more spiced than other versions of the Hot Toddy, the Fallen Leaf includes ginger liqueur and allspice dram; and if that weren’t enough, rather than the normal hot water, it uses a cinnamon and lemon-infused hot water. And instead of simple syrup, it takes the warming and aromatic sweetener of honey syrup. Together, they give the drink a deep aroma of holiday spices, perfect for the cool seasons. But keep in mind this tipple proves strong, so it’s best to sip slowly, no matter how lovely it is.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Elijah Craig small-batch bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce Lustau Solera Reserva brandy de Jerez
  • 1/4 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce St. Elizabeth allspice dram
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 ounce honey syrup*
  • 3 ounces cinnamon-lemon-infused hot water**
  • Garnish: lemon wheel
  • Garnish: grated nutmeg

Steps

  1. Add the bourbon, brandy de Jerez, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, honey syrup and lemon into a small Toddy mug.

  2. Top with the cinnamon-lemon-infused hot water.

  3. Garnish with a lemon wheel and grated nutmeg.

*Honey syrup: Add 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan over medium heat. (You can experiment and decide how much of a honey flavor you want in your syrup. The more honey you use, the thicker the syrup and stronger in flavor it will be.) Stir until blended. Strain into a jar and seal tightly with a lid. Will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator.

**Cinnamon-lemon-infused hot water: Boil 1 cup water, 1 lemon peel and 1 cinnamon stick for 5 minutes, discard the peel and stick, and let cool.