Autumn / Fall Cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by Dan Malpass

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Summer is fading, leaves are starting to scatter the ground and the weather is turning chillier. It's not yet time for winter warmers, but crushed ice-charged summer coolers are no longer in season. It's autumn/fall, so a time to appreciate those last few warm(ish) sunny days whilst sipping on an appropriately brownish-coloured cocktail which at any other time of year could be considered drab.

It's also harvest time so there's a bounty of ingredients, with cocktails tending to focus on the seasonally available fruit: apples, blackberries, pears and plums. (It's also sloe berry season - time to make sloe gin.)

Perhaps with a view to stocking larders (or pantries if you will), autumn cocktails often use maple syrup, honey and demerara sugar as their sweetener.

When it comes to base spirits, perhaps inspired by the colours of the leaves, brown spirits seem preferred - particularly whisk(e)y, calvados (apples again!) and cognac - are favoured.

Our 20 best autumnal cocktails

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Apple Cart
With: Calvados, triple sec, lemon juice, and apple schnapps liqueur.
We say: A calvados Sidecar. I like to add a splash of German apple schnapps liqueur.

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Apples 'n' Pears
With: Calvados, vodka, pear and cognac liqueur and apple juice.
We say: In cockney rhyming slang 'apples and pears' means 'stairs'. The flavours of these fruits also combine well.

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Autumn Leaves
With: Whiskey, apple brandy, vermouth and herbal liqueur.
We say: A delightful apple, whiskey, vermouth and herbal combination.

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Autumn Cocktail
With: Passion fruit, bison vodka, apple juice, passion fruit syrup, lemon juice and champagne.
We say: Suitably autumnal in colour with passion fruit, lemon and pear enlivened by champagne.

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Dr. Rieux
With: Calvados, white rum, Swedish punsch, orange Curacao, demerara syrup and lemon juice.
We say: A full-bodied blend with very appealing underlying flavours.

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Dried Meadow Flower
With: Reposado tequila, elderflower liqueur, gentian liqueur, lemon juice, and soda water.
We say: Floral elderflower and tequila with a hint of bittersweet gentian and refreshing lemon.

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Fall From The Tree
With: Calvados, apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, and aromatic bitters.
We say: This autumnal cocktail also works well when based on scotch whisky.

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Fallen Leaves
With: Calvados, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and cognac.
We say: An autumnal blend of vermouth and brandies.

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Harvest Cocktail
With: Calvados, vermouth amaro and Angostura Bitters.
We say: A spiced apple brandy short boozy cocktail.

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Honey Badger
With: Rosemary sprig, bourbon, Yellow Chartreuse, ginger syrup, honey syrup, lemon juice and lemon bitters.
We say: Named after the animal that looks more like a polecat than a badger.

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Iron Negroni
With: Dry gin, Ferro China and sweet vermouth.
We say: A negroni with a somewhat added smoothness, this punchy blend is a simple cocktail to be easily enjoyed.

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Journey of Brothers
With: Scotch whisky, calvados, fino sherry, celery bitters, and tonic water.
We say: Adapted from a recipe which won the 2018 Chivas Masters Competition.

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New York Sour
With: Bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup, Angostura Bitters, egg white and red wine.
We say: Best enjoyed whilst sat in Central Park but thought to have originated in Chicago.

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Peat's Dragon
With: Scotch, Speyside single malt scotch, Grand Marnier, Lillet Blanc, dry vermouth and black pepper.
We say: A dry and aromatic flavour enlivened by subtle black pepper notes, best enjoyed as an aperitif to spark late night autumn chatter.

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Port Old-Fashioned
With: Bourbon, tawny port, maple syrup, Angostura Bitters.
We say: A riff on an old-fashioned both tasty and balanced.

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September Morn
With: Gold 3 year old light rum, lime juice, grenadine syrup, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: A suitably autumnal-coloured Daiquiri.

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Smokestack Lightning
With: Reposado tequila, Islay single malt, agave syrup and lime juice.
We say: It's a time of year for clearing gardens and having bonfires so a smoky Margarita seems appropriate.

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With: Bison vodka, apple juice, lime juice
We say: Tatanka is a Native American word for buffalo and refers to the Bison grass flavoured vodka the cocktail is based on - can be equally served straight-up, is a simple and very delicious drink.

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Thyme Will Tell Sour
With: Thyme, bourbon, maple syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
We say: This well-balanced blend has the right level of sweetness and tasty citrusy underlying notes.

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The Windfall
With: Freya Birch Spirit, armagnac and pressed apple juice.
We say: With faint pine and smoky notes, this cocktail is complex and very delectable.

More autumn/fall cocktails here.

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