As the seasons change, we start changing up our routines–sundresses get packed up and sweaters come out, our daily cold brew becomes a hot coffee, and what we want in a drink starts to shift from the juicy, refreshing sips of summer to fall cocktails that have a different sensibility.
“Fall is the time of the year where we switch from imbibing clear spirits like gin, rum, and tequila, to our brown spirits like bourbon, brandy, and Scotch,” says Tobin Shea, the bar director at Redbird downtown. And while there might be plenty of exceptions to that rule–we love a smoky mezcal, say, or the surprising Gibson variant Iain McPherson is whipping up this season at Duello–but the basic concept applies.
We asked some of L.A.’s top bartenders and spirits wizards to share recipes for their favorite fall cocktails, so you can shake (or stir) one up at home, be it for a festive dinner party or just curling up under a blanket on the sofa.
Iain McPherson, bar director, Simone and Duello
“Traditionally, Kimchi is prepared in fall, to have vegetables saved for the winter. The Kimchi Gibson is a great savory and punchy cocktail. A perfect sipper for the months of fall.”
2 oz gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz kimchi juice
Shake with ice, strain, and garnish with kimchi on a cocktail stick.
We All Fall Down
Matthew Alper, founder, Mulholland Distilling
“This elevated cocktail is a is perfect way to up your home bartending game this fall while entertaining guests. The salted caramel is a crowd favorite this season and pairs nicely with the fresh scents of vanilla bean in our American Whiskey.”
1.5 oz Mulholland American Whiskey
1 oz Carrot juice
.25 oz Lemon juice
.75 oz Pineapple juice
.5 oz Salted caramel syrup
Dry shake ingredients in tin until combined and egg white is frothy. Add ice and hard shake, to chill. Double strain into coupe glass. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg and Himalayan sea salt.
Tobin Shea, bar director, Redbird
“One cocktail that best represents fall is the Maple Leaf. Bourbon provides notes of cinnamon and vanilla, cognac provides hints of stone fruits, and sherry gives it a nutty finish. Add in the bright fresh lemon and winter’s favorite sweetener, maple syrup, and you have an autumnal whiskey sour.”
1.5 oz Elijah Craig Bourbon
.5 oz Hennessy VSOP
.5 oz Lustau Olorosso Sherry
.5 oz St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
.75 oz fresh pressed lemon
.5 oz maple syrup
Combine all ingredients into a shaker, add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into an iced filled rocks glass, and garnish with an orange twist.
Thank Your Lucky Stars
Devin Childress, lead bartender, Viviane
“We’re going into fall and winter citrus season, so I chose all of the brightest flavors of the upcoming season and dried it out a bit with Lillet to keep the cocktail balanced with the tonic. It’s crisp and refreshing but somehow in an evergreen way, which is pretty ubiquitous this time of year as the rest of our tree friends start to go to sleep for winter.”
1.5oz Oxley Gin
1oz Lillet Blanc
5 star anise
3 thinly sliced lime wheels
5 channeled orange peels
Roll in tin with ice, dump into glass and top with tonic, garnish with thyme sprig.
Brighid Maguire, manager, Bar Toscana
“This is the perfect drink to get in the mood for fall and the flavors of Thanksgiving dinners! It’s nice strong drink, but light and refreshing on the palate.”
It’s almost a twist on the old fashioned, a rum old fashioned perhaps. The sage is the star, I always love an herbal component to my drinks.
2 oz Real McCoy 3-Year Aged Rum
.5 oz Giffard crème de cassis
4 fresh sage leaves
3 dashes orange bitters
Build drink in an old fashioned glass or tumbler. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds. Spritz with the oils from an orange peel and use peel and sage additional leaves to garnish.
Kyle Beauregard, general manager and bar manager, Ray’s & Stark Bar
“The apple and spice flavors in the American Trilogy make it an amazing fall cocktail to enjoy all season long, and into winter. Even if it’s 80 degrees in Los Angeles, you can still taste the fall.”
1 oz Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
1 oz Laird’s applejack brandy
1 oz spiced apple syrup
Stir the ingredients together with ice and serve. Garnish with a thin slice of dehydrated citrus.
Three Blind Archers
Ryan Julio, owner, ETA
“This cocktail is an entrancing combination of Japanese whisky, dry vermouth, Martinique syrup, and Madeira, all enhanced with the addition of Pandan leaves which results in a floral and nutty drink ideal for the fall season.”
2 oz. Mars Shinshu Iwai Tradition Whisky
.5 oz Pandan-infused Blandy’s 5 Yr. Sercial Madeira
.5 oz Channing Daughters VerVino Vermouth Variation #5
.5 teaspoon Martinique syrup
4 drops saline solution
Pandan-infused Madeira: Take one 10- to 12-inch fresh pandan leaf, rinse with water to remove any dirt, and pat dry with paper towels. Once dried, cut the pandan leaf into 1-inch pieces. Drop the pandan leaf pieces into a non-reactive airtight container, and add 1 x 750 ml bottle of Madiera. Let the pandan leaves steep with the Madeira at room temperature for 24 hours. Pour the Madeira through a fine mesh strainer, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Saline solution: Combine 1 teaspoon table salt to 5 teaspoons of hot water. Stir until salt is fully dissolved, then store in dropper bottle.
Directions for cocktail: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with large cubes of cracked ice. Stir for 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Squeeze a piece of orange peel over the drink and use as garnish. A few drops of saline solution help remove astringency and bitterness from the cocktail, while elevating the nuanced flavors from the rest of the ingredients.
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