Is autumn the very best time of year for cocktails? While we’re professionally obligated to remind you that every season has its charms, fall might be the ultimate. Cool weather, longer nights, and a bumper crop of festive holidays all add up to a peak cocktail moment.
A great cozy season tipple should tick at least one of the following boxes: seasonal produce, a hot serve, autumnal flavors, or welcomingly warming booziness. Need a few ideas? Read on to discover your new favorite fall cocktail.
This classic vodka cocktail couldn’t be easier to make. Squeeze half a lime into a copper mug. Add two ounces of vodka (try ALB Vodka, Rieger’s Premium Wheat Vodka, or Effen Vodka), stir, add ice, and top with ginger beer.
The Moscow Mule doesn’t really come from Russia. Allegedly, it was invented by a bartender on a mission to clear out extra vodka and ginger beer inventory from the bar’s basement. The mug seems to be a throwback to a marketing stunt pulled by a vodka salesman in the mid-20th century.
However the drink came about, we think it’s the perfect choice for those brilliant, not-so-autumnal days right on the cusp of fall. The vodka and the tall serve make it refreshing; the ginger adds just a subtle touch of fall flavor. Plus, there’s something about the traditional copper mug that gives off those Pottery Barn cozy vibes. (You can use a highball cocktail glass in a pinch.)
The actual number of hot toddy variations approaches infinity. Rather than finding that overwhelming, think of it as freeing.
Still, you’ll need a starting point, so here’s a template: one and a half ounces of brown spirit (feel free to experiment with bourbon, Irish whiskey, Scotch, or rum), a tablespoon of sweetener, half an ounce of citrus juice, and six ounces of hot water. From there, the sky’s the limit.
Try honey, maple syrup, or infused simple syrup as a sweetener. Your citrus can be lemon juice, a clove-studded orange wedge, or lime juice. Swap the hot water for herbal tea, mulled cider, or gluhwein. Just don’t forget the cinnamon stick garnish–that seems to be the most important part.
Do your fall plans call for a skiing vacation in the Alps? Yeah, us neither. But a Verte Chaud–hot chocolate spiked with Chartreuse–is the next best thing.
This drink falls into the narrow but wonderful overlap between “extremely simple” and “very fancy seeming.” To make one, start by making a mug of hot chocolate. We vote for using your fanciest cocoa, but Swiss Miss will work in a pinch. Then, add a small splash of Green Chartreuse, the lime green and ferociously herbal concoction made by monks near Grenoble. Sip, and evaluate. You can always add more, but you can’t take any out if you overdo it.
Once you’ve dialed in your ratio, we advocate topping the drink with some softly whipped cream. It’s not essential, but why cheat yourself?
Maple Old Fashioned
If you’re a cocktail fan, the odds are good you can make an Old Fashioned in your sleep. It’s one of the simplest cocktails out there, and it’s one that (like the toddy) rewards experimentation. Two ounces of spirit, a spoonful of sweetener, and a dash or two of bitters That’s it.
For a seasonal riff on this greatest of the greatest hits, try swapping maple syrup for the simple syrup or sugar cube the Old Fashioned usually calls for. We particularly like this riff with a rye whiskey like Wild Turkey Rare Breed Rye or Dad’s Hat Rye.
You can build the drink in a mixing glass filled with ice, or you can even skip the tin and do it all in a chilled rocks glass (fewer dishes!).
Ready to level up your Thanksgiving festivities? Mix up a batch of cranberry margaritas. The tart fruitiness of the cranberries goes surprisingly well with lime and tequila–plus, it is a truly festive shade of magenta.
Here’s a quick batch recipe that makes about eight drinks. Feel free to scale it up or down, depending on the size of your crowd.
Combine one and a half cups of blanco tequila (try El Luchador Tequila or Fortaleza Tequila Blanco), four cups of 100% cranberry juice, three quarters of a cup of Triple Sec, half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, and ice in a large pitcher. Stir to chill, then top with two thinly sliced limes and a cup of fresh cranberries.
Ready to spruce up your home bar for fall? Visit Mash & Grape to stock up on everything you need to make autumn’s best cocktails, delivered right to your door. Or, you can sign up for one of our Mashbox clubs, which curates bottles from world-class distilleries and sends you (or your lucky recipient) a surprise each month.