When we’re not guzzling down Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes, toasting a pumpkin ale, or trying to eat pumpkin and bacon at the same time, we’re trying to figure out how to get drunk off our pumpkins. Fortunately, bars across the country are finding ways for us to do just that.
Dennis Schuler, the bar manager at Summit at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., knows a thing or two about using pumpkins in boozy concoctions. Canned pumpkin is very convenient, but the process to make the pumpkin pliant in a drink — while keeping the flavor — requires a few extra steps. How do he and his team do it to make the Smashing Pumpkins cocktail? First, he takes a can of pumpkin purée, and divides it in half. Then, he adds half a can of brown sugar simple syrup and half a can of Grand Marnier to it, and lets it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, he takes that concoction and presses it between two kitchen strainers. "We get all the liquid back, with the brown sugar and the Grand Marnier, minus the solid," he says. Then, he adds in that remaining half of the canned pumpkin. "You really get the flavor of that pumpkin when you mix it back in," he says. That way, there’s more liquid for the pumpkin drinks.
Schuler says you can also cut a real pumpkin, scrape off the inside seeds and peel off the rind, and pop the pumpkin into a juice extractor. That makes a lighter juice to use in cocktails, like their Sparkling Summit Jack-o'-Lantern cocktail.
As for spirits, the darker ones — bourbon, rye whiskey, and others — are always a solid choice for a pumpkin cocktail, Schuler says. But don’t let the dark side take over: "we have cocktails using vodka, tequila, and rum," he adds. (And yes, there is such a thing as pumpkin margarita.) Whip these spirits up in a batch for your Halloween party — there’s no such thing as too much pumpkin this season.