It’s the time of year when the leaves have officially turned color and all the things we love about fall—crisp temperatures, football, and apples, to name just a few—are in full swing. October is a wonderful month. The only thing that can improve it? Great cocktails, of course. With drinks that include all the flavors of the season, these 11 cocktails are perfect for all your autumn celebrations or cozy solo sipping.
Bartending vet Aisha Sharpe is to thank for this cocktail, which tastes like autumn in highball format. Laird's straight bottled-in-bond apple brandy’s sweet and strong flavor is enhanced with Pimm’s No. 1, lemon juice, and just a touch of simple syrup. A couple dashes each of Angostura bitters and Peychaud’s bitters round it all out, and the whole mix is shaken until chilled, then strained over fresh ice, where it’s all topped with chilled ginger beer and garnished with a lemon wheel.
The change from summer into autumn doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use dark spirits exclusively. In fact, gin can work just as well now as it did all summer, as illustrated by this recipe. The cocktail pays homage to the season’s falling leaves and crisper air with seasonal fresh pear puree, which adds depth to the time-honored pairing of gin and St-Germain. It gets some lemon juice for brightness and a topper of Champagne for festive bubbles.
As the days cool down, reach for your flannel, both from your closet and from your home bar. This cozy recipe is served cold but will warm you up as soon as you start to sip. Plus, it’s easy to make: Just shake cognac, apple cider syrup, allspice dram, and orange juice, then strain and garnish with an orange peel.
Rum, brandy, sherry, scotch, amer, bitters… No, we’re not listing out the shopping list for stocking your bar cart. They’re ingredients needed to make this cocktail, a potent but surprisingly nuanced drink. The layers of flavor are as rich and complex as you’d expect, but the true beauty comes in how well balanced it is from start to finish.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
Toast to the month of pumpkins and prep for the impending holiday season with this festive, Halloween-appropriate spin on Eggnog. From legendary bartender Tony Abou-Ganim, this large-format recipe eschews store-bought mixes in favor of a homemade batter that’s flavored for fall with pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Not only is it cool and creamy, but the slightly offbeat (but totally doable) mixing routine results in a fluffy texture that’s a true showstopper.
When you have a crowd over, punches are typically a great choice for keeping everyone happy. They’re easy and fun and will keep your guests’ glasses full without requiring you to be constantly mixing drinks. This bubbly punch created by Chris Elford and Anu Apte of Seattle’s Rob Roy is particularly perfect for all your October gatherings with its mix of seasonal flavors. Bourbon and Ancho Reyes chile liqueur are a bracing combination that’s tamed with honey syrup, fresh lime, and sparkling cider. Serve it all in a hollowed-out pumpkin and you’re all set for a wonderful fall party.
Warm up from the inside out with this hot cocktail from Chad Solomon and Christy Pope, the co-owners of Midnight Rambler in Dallas. Rum and cognac pack a one-two punch of flavor that’s brought to new heights with homemade Wassail—a mix of apple cider, unsweetened pomegranate juice, white sugar, fresh orange and lemon juices, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice that’s traditionally served in England during the holidays.
Chai Spice Mule
Give your typical Moscow Mule a new twist. This one gets the addition of comforting spices like cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, allspice, and cloves. When paired with a homemade ginger shrub, the spices bring a warm quality to vodka, while a splash of ginger beer and lemon juice brings it all back into familiar territory.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
Fall From the Tree
Make the most of fall flavors with this cocktail from The Happiest Hour in NYC. Choose your base spirit (either applejack, bourbon, or scotch), then mix it with fresh apple juice, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and a dash of aromatic bitters. Serve it in a chilled coupe glass, topped with a fresh apple slice to hint to the flavors you’ll find within.
Don’t let your preconceived notions about this classic steer you away. Bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s version keeps everything from being overly sweet. Amaretto stars (of course) alongside bourbon, fresh lemon juice, rich simple syrup, and an egg white. Shake until it’s all frothy, sweet, sour, nutty, and strong, then strain and garnish with a lemon twist and brandied cherries.
Mama I'm Coming Home
Jenn Knott, the head bartender at 312 Chicago, calls this cocktail "a one-stop-shop for all of the flavors reminiscent of the changing seasons." In other words, it’s perfect for a fickle month like October, where it can feel like summer one day and winter the next. Scotch infused with pecans is a warming base that’s simmered with port, apple cider, honey syrup, cinnamon, and cloves to make a warming large-format drink that’s perfect for crisp outdoor gatherings. Serve in an Irish coffee mug and garnish with a soft caramel candy to really bring it over the edge.