There’s nothing wrong with embracing pumpkin puree at this time of year. However, we wanted to go a bit further into the seasonal spectrum and we’ve found a few ingredients making their presence known. From the hundreds of cocktails and recipes we reviewed or sampled, the following six reflect some observations we’ve made of late. The first, and boldest, happens to be charcoal. Yes, this is factoring into drinks everywhere from Austin’s Hotel San José (where they’ve got a pretty swell Charcoal Lemonade Shandy on the menu) to NYC’s Beauty & Essex. The two below really held our palates captive more than most. Wines also made a strong showing in cocktails, with both sherry and port featuring. And finally, perhaps least surprising, pome fruits (which include apples and pears) made plenty of appearances, but it’s the way they’ve been paired or repurposed that’s really worth attention.
Developed by the team at NYC’s vegan haven by CHLOE, the Dreamsicle is the most playful of our six selections. A combination of cashew and almond milk lend the creaminess while Triple Sec and orange juice add citrus. Charcoal takes care of the rest.
1 oz vanilla vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
2 ½ oz orange juice
1 ½ oz Vegan Half n’ Half (cashew + Almond Cream blend)
.5 tsp activated charcoal
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients. Add a scoop of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with an orange slice.
Beyond being visually stunning, the Perla Negra tastes like nothing else. Concocted for downstairs cocktail venue Slowly Shirley, this cocktails surprises go beyond the charcoal.
2 oz Santa Teresa 1796 rum
.5 tsp activated charcoal
1 oz kalamansi
1 oz orange juice
.5 oz honey
.5 oz ginger
1 oz arrack
top: 2 oz Sorrel
Add activated charcoal to shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the Sorrel. Shake with about three large ice cubes. Strain over crushed ice into skull vessel. Pack a lit votive candle into the crushed ice on top of the cocktail. Measure and pour the sorrel around the candle. Garnish with orchids.
Pome Fruit Reimagined
Of course cognac and prosecco go hand-in-hand, but the trick to Bryan Schneider’s Pear Sangria happens to be a custom spiced pear syrup. Discovered at Park Avenue Autumn, the cocktail has depth beyond the fruitiness and fizz.
1 oz cognac
1 oz Spiced Pear Syrup*
.5 oz lemon juice
3 oz prosecco
Shake, strain into a wine glass. Top with prosecco. Garnish with a pear slice and cinnamon stick. To make your own *Spiced Pear Syrup: In a pot add 2 cups Bartlett pear juice (fresh-pressed in a juicer), 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup whole cloves. Bring to a simmer, and cut heat. Let cool 10 minutes. Strain out cloves.
Bonded Apple Sazerac
Created by Johnny Swet for premiere cocktail lounge The Skylark, the Bonded Apple Sazerac succeeds in its double commitment to apple. It’s approached once with CH favorite Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy but touched upon again with the relatively obscure Schoenauer Apfel Liquor (aka a specific type of apple schnapps). The absinthe-rinse makes it wilder, but never too much.
2 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz Schoenauer Apfel Liquor
25 oz agave
4 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Strain into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The Tivoli is what happens when The Miami Beach EDITION’s Matador Bar partners with NYC powerhouse The NoMad Bar. Developed by NoMad Bar Director, Leo Robitschek, the cocktail’s use of sherry was what struck our attention, but the dashes of white balsamic matter a great deal. This is a truly visionary creation and making it at home means committing to some uncommon items. But it’s worth it. Or, you know, just go order it.
8 dashes white balsamic
.5 oz Lustau Palo Cortado sherry
.5 oz Unicum Plum
.75 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Nux Aplina Nonino
1 oz Avion
Stir all ingredients, pour into a large rocks glass with a two-inch ice cube. Add a celery curl garnish.
Mama I’m Coming Home
For batch-making, there’s nothing quite like the Mama I’m Coming Home. Created by Jennifer Knot of 312 Chicago, this warm drink incorporates port and scotch. Together, after mulling with sweets and spices, it yields warmth for the spirit.
2 cups apple cider
1.5 cups pecan-infused Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky
0.75 cup Fonseca Bin 27 Port
0.75 cup honey syrup
2 Cinnamon sticks
Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let mull for an hour. Double strain the cinnamon sticks and cloves from the hot cider. Pour into an Irish coffee mug and garnish with a soft caramel candy. Serving size: 10 people batched / 4 oz per drink or single servings.
By CHLOE image by Mikey Pozarik, all other images courtesy of respective venues or brands