It’s November but in Sacramento, San Antonio, Austin and San Diego, it still feels summery, and cocktail menus reflect that. From New York to Portland, where mild days give way to crisp fall nights, you’ll find more of a mix of classic fall flavors. Whether corn or curry refreshers, boozy baijiu or fruit-forward sippers, these are the 11 cocktails to drinks at bars and restaurants right now.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great drinks in November? Try making The Apple Fell Far from the Tree from this list at home.
The new Flamingo House, with its velvet pink and purple couches, bright floral wallpaper and tropical-etched wall mirrors, evokes a Miami-meets-California-circa-1980s vibe. Matthew Byrd and Bobby Falcon built out the vibrant, covered back patio themselves with designer Dacy Kolsky. Drinks are seasonal and change weekly. Recently, the Raspberry Thyme Rickey felt both summery with fresh raspberry and strawberry but also fall-like with aromatic thyme, mixed with Malfy Italian gin (from Italy’s Amalfi Coast), lemon and lime juices and agave for balance.
New from Dushan Zaric (Employees Only) and Kyle Tran (The Aviary, Chicago), the lofty Library of Distilled Spirits in the Hyatt Union Square features more than 1,000 spirits, accessible by rolling ladders. Tran and principal bartender Federico Avila craft fascinating, layered cocktails. While it’s easy to love matcha fizzes and black truffle with Japanese whisky, a refreshing highball, the Revolution Calling, just may be the sleeper hit. This smart blend of three rums—Caña Brava, Plantation 3 Stars and white Rhum J.M—gets the elevated Rum & Coke treatment with Mexican Coca-Cola and is given minty depth from Branca Menta amaro.
In Charleston, S.C.’s North Central ’hood, The Faculty Lounge has managed to stay an under-the-radar industry favorite since husband-wife duo Nayda Freire and Erik Hutson took over in 2014. The space has a storied past, getting its name from its 1970s days as a neighborhood hangout for local teachers. Today, it’s a dive bar where cheap beer flows next to quality cocktails, spirits and Corpse Reviver shots. The If You Like Piña Coladas sounds like it’s going to be too sweet with Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple rum and coconut cream, but it’s not. Served in a tall, plastic ’70s diner tumbler, the green pepper kick of Ancho Reyes Verde chile poblano liqueur and bubbly of LaCroix sparkling water keeps it lush yet vegetal, dry yet tropical.
Bartender Francis Stanksy contributed one of the gems on PCH’s latest menu, the Chimpan-Chiote. This cocktail features Monkey Shoulder scotch and amontillado sherry. But instead of being spirituous and heavy, it’s buoyant with a fruity-savory guava-cumin combo, accented by orange bitters and achiote shrub (Filipino vinegar and grapefruit juice and peel). It stimulates the appetite as it also drinks like a sunny day.
In the intimate Downstairs at The Esquire, beverage director Houston Eaves plays with corn on his ambitious cocktail menu, nodding to a Mexican classic with a boozy Champurrado (traditional Mexican chocolate and corn masa drink) or showcasing ingredients like burnt tortilla salt. The LandRace is a savory, purple-corn-infused gin cocktail inspired by a Martini. The gin gains earthy, funky complexity from a dry vermouth infused with huitlacoche, a Mexican delicacy otherwise known as corn smut/fungus. Think of it as a sort of Mexican truffle martini.
La Chasse is a Louisville locals’ favorite since 2015 for French-Spanish fare and a warm neighborhood welcome. Isaac Fox and his team turn out a range of cocktail classics and aperitifs that pair well with food. But peruse the “Savory” section of the menu, and you’ll find cocktails playing with Kummel (caraway liqueur) and cilantro or sweet corn and bell pepper. The Curried Favor is a creamy, piquant delight of Ypióca Crystal cachaça and a house-made coconut curry syrup, lively with lime and cilantro. It goes down like tropical vacation drinking for a foodie.
Miss Ada is a Brooklyn go-to for modern Israeli-Mediterranean bites. And the drinks are equally as appetizing. While orange wines certainly pair beautifully with dreamy dips like hummus and labneh, the Beet-On cocktail shouldn’t be missed. The bracing goodness of anise-forward arak is the base spirit, made earthy and lush purple-red with beets and brightened by mint and lemon.
You could call this a buttoned-up Chris Cosentino restaurant, which isn’t to say it’s not fun. When you are served the Margarita Las Alcobas at Napa Valley’s casual-chic Acacia House, the drink’s salty foam and savory-tart goodness makes the Margarita feel fresh. Throw in a round of Iberico pork schnitzel, and this foamy Margarita makes for one fine wine country meal.
Opened in 2011 by Dan Hart and Chris Navarra, Portland’s Interurban is the ideal high-low bar, pouring craft beers alongside American whiskey with quality pub fare. General manager and lead bartender Jon Green crafts cocktails that warm as the weather cools. The Export Only deftly mixes three beautiful spirits—Four Roses bourbon, Plantation five-year-old rum and Quinta do Infantado 10-year-old tawny port—in one seamless-yet-complex whole, balanced by a touch of cane syrup.
RPM Italian draws out summer with its short-but-sweet Spritz menu, utilizing seasonal ingredients like blackberry or blueberry and combinations like amari and bubbles. Bar manager Michael Trow turns out Spritzes named after the restaurant’s RPM namesake. M was created by lead bartender Stephanie Tadd and is a showcase of Seattle’s layered Brovo Amaro #01. Aromatic with clove, cinnamon and orange, the herbaceous spice of the amaro plays with the drier bitter of Cocchi Dopo Teatro vermouth and a generous splash of Chinotto Italian soda.
From its spacious upstairs patio and dining room to a sleek downstairs area, Kettner Exchange is one of San Diego’s great restaurants, serving chef Brian Redzikowski’s inspired dishes like buffalo-wing-style Louisiana frog legs with bleu cheese or foie gras Cubano sandwiches. Bar manager Steven Tuttle has made Kettner a drink destination, thanks to Tiki-esque beauties like a Piña Colada Old Fashioned. The Apple Fell Far from the Tree is a fall refresher, SoCal-style. Butterfly-pea-infused blanco tequila means the drink turns a rich shade of blue to purple, hinting at autumn with the allspice-rum notes of Hamilton pimento dram, brightened by lime and Fuji apple syrup—all without losing the vibrancy of the tequila.
Mixing your cocktail