According to NYC bartender and consultant Joanna Carpenter, mini pumpkins are more than just throwaway fall décor. If you have the time (and an efficient scooping tool), pumpkins should be at the top of your list when conducting kitchen experiments during the cooler months.
To make the Hey, Gourdgeous cocktail, Carpenter enlists another cold-weather favorite, the crockpot, to slow-cook a cornucopia of fall ingredients, including apples, maple syrup and baking spices. She calls upon apple brandy and Amaro Montenegro to provide the boozy kick, and then those flavors all mingle together over heat before being served inside baked mini pumpkins that are brushed with spiced butter.
The resulting cocktail is fun, festive and delicious—so, it’s everything you want when using gourds as glassware. And while it does take some extra time to prep your ingredients and cook the drink, the reward is worth the effort because you’ll have an entire crockpot of cocktail at your disposal. Break out this recipe for football games, holiday parties or any other time you need to serve a crowd. Since you’re doing the bulk of the work ahead of time, you’ll be free to enjoy yourself as guests ladle the drink into their personal pumpkins.
- 16 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 12 ounces real maple syrup
- 8 ounces water
- 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into chunks
- 4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 8 cinnamon sticks
- 8 star anise pods
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 bottle apple brandy (750 mL)
- 1/2 bottle Amaro Montenegro (375 mL)
- 6 spiced-butter-brushed baked mini pumpkins*
- Garnish: grated cinnamon
- Garnish: cinnamon stick
In a slow cooker, add lemon juice, maple syrup, water and apples, then top with ginger, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and nutmeg.
Stir, then cover and cook on high for one hour.
Add apple brandy and amaro, and gently stir to mix.
Cover again and cook on high for another hour. Turn to low to keep warm, and serve as needed.
*Spiced-butter-brushed baked mini pumpkins: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice off tops of 6 small pumpkins and hollow out insides, making sure not to scoop the walls too thin. Arrange pumpkins on a baking sheet cut side down and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the insides are mushy. In the meantime, in a shallow saucepan on medium heat, add 2 sticks of salted butter, 4 cinnamon sticks and 1 tsp ground nutmeg. When butter is melted, stir in 1 cup packed brown sugar until completely mixed. Keep warm on very low heat so the mixture doesn’t burn. Remove pumpkins from oven, and turn them cut side up. Let stand to cool for 10 minutes. Brush spiced butter over inside of each pumpkin before pouring warm cocktail from slow cooker into each pumpkin.