Beach days may be behind most of us at this point, but warming, cinnamon, apple, and spice flavors are one reason to get excited this fall. What better way to indulge in said essences than by drinking in the season, literally. Fortuitously, bartenders throughout New York have been working to perfect their cool-weather cocktails, and here are six options you shouldn’t miss.
Ron Otoño at Greenwich Project
Lucky for you, if you head to this classy restaurant you get not just the Ron Otoño, a cocktail made with apricot, housemade fig jam and Brugal dark rum that has been infused with ginger and black peppercorn, but also a handful of other season-appropriate drinks. But first, more about Ron Otoño, a mixture that brilliantly uses rum, yet manages to taste not like a tropical tipple, but a decidedly fall one. While there, also try the Uncle Sven, barman John McCarthy’s take on a Norse cocktail that utilizes fresh-pressed beet juice, Bols Genever, Kümmel and housemade celery bitters. The outcome is an earthy-sweet liquid with a pleasing herbal juiciness to it, perfect for warming up after ice fishing or what have you. The kicker: It comes with a delicately placed pickled anchovy on top, which goes splendidly with the flavors in the cup. Also check out the Oaxaqueño, McCarthy’s boozy take on a traditional Mexican breakfast porridge that’s made with fresh corn juice, cinnamon-infused agave, Fidencio mezcal and two types of bitters.
Bonita Applebum at Do or Dine
If you could take the best apple pie on the planet and turn it into a cocktail, it would most likely taste like bartender Lurie Jackson’s seasonal tipple, the Bonita Applebum. However, it wasn’t this American icon (named from A Tribe Called Quest’s song Bonita Applebum) that got Jackson thinking about the drink; instead, she garnered inspiration from the classic, spicy cinnamon-tinged candy Red Hots — you know, the ones you had as a kid in the movie theater. With that in mind, she mixed up two types of applejack, a 100 proof and an 80 proof, with cinnamon, serrano chili simple syrup, lemon and Ceylon cinnamon bitters produced by local Brooklyn company, Devil’s Larder. It’s just spicy enough to warm you, but not so hot that you don’t want to keep on sipping.
Clare Island at Grace Gaelic Hospitality
Recently opened, Grace Gaelic Hospitality is an Irish-themed bar where the menu is completely made up of drinks created by a handful of talented female bartenders from across the city. One of these ladies is Lucinda Sterling of Middle Branch, who created the Clare Island for Grace’s fall menu. This drink is made with Santa Teresa “1796” solera-aged rum with Punt e Mes, Merlet pear liqueur and Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters black Mission fig bitters, and comes with an orange twist. The result is a warming beverage with flavors of a freshly baked pear tart, but with a kick.
Under the Host at The Black Hound
You know Dorothy Parker’s old adage, “I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host”? Well, this is where the name of this boozy libation comes from, appropriately so given it’s made with Dorothy Parker gin, lemon, cinnamon bark syrup and orange blossom water. Granted, like the writer, it’s a strong cocktail, but the spice gives it a warming roundness perfect for the fall. Another literary drink served here is the After the Funeral, named for Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. This concoction is made with rye whiskey, Campari, lemon and grapefruit juice, ginger, and the same cinnamon bark syrup, which helps warm the citrus and balance out the bitter orange liqueur. After a couple of these cocktails, you will leave this speakeasy-style bar warm, happy and feeling quite poetic.
Fuji Apple at Brushstroke
Head to Tastemaker David Bouley’s Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star kaiseki-style eatery downtown for a light and refreshing fall drink that pays homage not only to the noble Fuji apple, but also tips a hat to Japan, and the cuisine served at the restaurant. This refreshing nip mixes Old Overholt rye whiskey with fresh cider and housemade apple preserves. The result is a drink that tastes good sipped alone, or paired with the intricately executed seasonal plates such as Hudson Valley duck breast smoked in chrysanthemum petals with smoked cypress salt and shungiko purée or Canadian Fuji-pork belly confit with Fuji apples with sweet grilled heart of palm and mushrooms with walnuts.
Jackie Rose at Apartment 13
With Lairds Applejack, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, lemon juice and housemade grenadine, this cheerful cocktail is great way to start fall, as well as kick off the opening of Apartment 13 in the East Village. Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Steve Olson, who consulted on the restaurant’s beverage menu, created this sweet and tangy cocktail, and it’s just one in a long list of drinks that pair brilliantly with the seasonal dishes (think pigs trotter croquette with celery-cabbage slaw and Brooklyn Brewery Chocolate Stout-ancho barbecue) also served.
Photos Courtesy of Linnea Covington