Words by: Simon Difford
Photography by: Dan Malpass
Summer is fading, leaves are starting to scatter the ground and the weather is turning noticeably chillier. It’s not yet time for full-on winter warmers, but crushed ice charged summer coolers are obviously no longer in season. It’s autumn/fall, so a time to appreciate those last few warm(ish) sunny days whilst sipping on an appropriate cocktail.
Here in Blighty it's autumn, hence these seasonal cocktails are 'autumnal'. However, in North America it's fall, so does that make these cocktails 'fallmal' or 'fallish'? No matter, it is a time to enjoy brownish coloured cocktails which at any other time of year could be considered drab.
It's 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.
With: Ginger, bison vodka, apple juice, apple schnapps and sugar syrup.
Long and thirst quenching but also good served straight-up.
With: Crème de mûre, sour apple liqueur, calvados and rose champagne.
Rich apple and blackberry liqueurs fortified with calvados and charged with champagne.
Apple Black Royal recipe
With: Calvados, triple sec and lemon juice.
We say: Basically a calvados-based Sidecar.
Apple Cart recipe
With: Passion fruit, bison vodka, pear juice, passion fruit syrup, lemon juice and champagne.
We say: Suitably autumnal in colour with passion fruit, lemon and pear enlivened by champagne.
Autumn Cocktail recipe
With: Dry gin, runny honey, lemon juice and orange juice.
We say: We've taken this recipe from David Embury's 1948 book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.
Bee's Knees recipe
With: Dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de mûre.
We say: It's a time to go foraging in the hedgerows, but watch out for the brambles.
With: Bourbon, caramel liqueur, sweet vermouth, pineapple juice and Peychaud's Bitters.
We say: Bourbon's character shines through in this soothing, mellow cocktail.
Caramel Manhattan recipe
With: Light white rum, dry vermouth, black pepper, pear puree, honey and lemon juice.
We say: Honey balances lemon sourness in this rum and pear cocktail.
With: Blanco tequila, Jägermeister, Yellow Chartreuse, sugar syrup, egg and nutmeg.
We say: Herbal, rich and creamy.
Death Flip recipe
With: Aged rum, Swedish punch and lime juice.
We say: Basically a Swedish Daiquiri - tasty.
Doctor No.1 recipe
With: Calvados, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and cognac.
We say: An autumnal blend of vermouth and brandies.
Fallen Leaves recipe
With: Calvados, vermouth amaro and Angostura Bitters.
We say: A spiced apple brandy short boozy cocktail.
Harvest Cocktail recipe
With: Rye whiskey, Lillet Blanc, calvados, Green Chartreuse and Bob's Bitters.
We say: A stirred down boozy after-dinner sipper.
Harvest Moon recipe
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.
Honey Badger recipe
With: Honey liqueur, crème de cassis, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: A tad on the sweet rather than sour side but berry nice.
Honey Berry Sour recipe
With: Bone dry white wine and crème de cassis.
We say: The blackcurrants used to make crème de cassis were harvested back in summer so this aperitif is perfect for those rare barmy autumn evenings.
Kir Aperitif recipe
With: Bourbon, lemon juice and maple syrup.
We say: Maple syrup provides the balancing sweetness in this bourbon sour.
Maple Leaf recipe
With: Bourbon, Angostura Bitters and maple syrup.
We say: We first came across this flavoursome maple influenced riff on the classic in Edinburgh back in 2004.
Maple Old Fashioned recipe
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.
New York Sour recipe
With: Fino sherry, amaretto, Peychaud's Bitters and absinthe.
We say: Named after the French game but with Spanish and Italian ingredients. Why here? It's the colour of autumn leaves.
Petanque Cocktail recipe
With: Pear puree, cachaça, vanilla liqueur and champagne.
We say: Orchard fruit with spiced vanilla, grassy cachaça and invigorating fizz.
Perfectly Paired Cocktail recipe
With: Vodka, honey liqueur and apple juice.
We say: Dick Bradsell created this drink for his father-in-law and it's apple notes make it perfect for autumn.
Polish Martini recipe
With: Aged rum, amontillado sherry, Islay single malt and sugar syrup.
We say: Rust is an autumnal colour and this drink is Rusty!
With: Bourbon, maple syrup, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Angostura Bitters.
We say: Another bourbon sour sweetened with maple syrup.
St Lawrence recipe
With: Sake, bourbon, sweet vermouth, maraschino, cherry brandy, Angostura Bitters and Peychaud's Bitters.
We say: A Manhattan is a great drink any time of year, this one is served with sake complexity.
Sake Manhattan recipe
With: Añejo tequila, mezcal, maraschino, agave syrup and lavender bitters.
We say: A hint of mezcal makes Sandy a somewhat smoky Showgirl.
Sady The Showgirl recipe
With: Mint, calvados, apple juice, sugar syrup and champagne.
We say: Fresh mint and apple flavours are energised by champagne.
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.
Smokestack Lightning recipe
With: Thyme, cognac, orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, brown sugar, Peychaud's Bitters, Angostura Bitters.
We say: Aromatic thyme subtly influences this spirituous autumnal cocktail.
Thyme For cocktail recipe
With: Vanilla vodka, crème de cacao and cranberry juice.
We say: Vodka laced 'chocolate covered cranberry' best describes the flavour of this indulgent after-dinner cocktail.
Triple 'C' Cocktail recipe
More autumn / fall cocktails.