The time is ripe for fall flavors.
FARMERS AND LAYMEN ALIKE have survived the brutal heat of summer, and there’s finally a bit of a nip in the air—which means the time is finally ripe to start thinking about incorporating autumn flavors into your fine libations. To spur your creativity, we spoke with several top area mixologists to see what ingredients they like to use behind the bar come harvest time.
LIQUOR Dark spirits, which tend to take a backseat during the warmer months, always come to the fore when the temperature begins to drop. Whiskeys are the first of these that come to mind when the leaves start to turn, but there are plenty of other hearty liquors that can be utilized. Matt Obermark, bar manager of Salt, likes to create with calvado, an apple-based brandy, as well as cognac, which provides seasonally appropriate spice and fruit notes. Justin Cardwell of BC’s Kitchen says earthy red wines and ports are logical choices, either as cocktail bases or to replace modifiers like vermouth in classic recipes. Tim Rabior, bartender at Sanctuaria, recommends trying dark, spiced rums as foundations for fine autumn refreshments.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES Just because the season is turning doesn’t mean there’s no more produce to play with. According to Cardwell, root vegetables like carrots get softer and sweeter as the weather gets cooler, making them plenty tasty and easier to use. Obermark likes incorporating the ubiquitous apple, always an autumnal staple, as well as stone fruits like apricots into his concoctions. Rabior reminds that oranges aren’t just for the summer months—they naturally augment a variety of harvest-centric spices and spirits. These natural delights can be juiced, used as garnishes, muddled and even flamed for tasty results. There are also plenty of liqueurs available based on these flavors that make delicious cocktail adds, like triple sec and applejack.
HERBS AND SPICES The same flavors that make fall cuisine so tasty do the same for seasonal cocktails. Baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice are tried-and-true choices, according to Obermark and Rabior, as are herbs like sage and thyme, favorites of Cardwell. And, don’t forget the nuts, as almonds and walnuts are a natural fit for fall drinks, according to Obermark. More intense spices like star anise and black pepper shouldn’t be ignored, either, says Cardwell. All of these can be easily incorporated into syrups or used on their own.
DIY RECIPE Try this easy fall cocktail recipe, a riff on the classic Manhattan.
THE BIG APPLE
2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
1 oz. Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Photo credit: photos by Matthew Strom