Every year, around mid to late July, the emails and phone calls start. It’s the journalists. This is how it generally goes: "Hey, hope your summer is going well. I am writing a piece about fall cocktails. What do you plan to offer this time?"
And once again, I’m caught off-guard, trying to turn the wheels of my mind and desperately failing to come up with an answer.
Here I am, enjoying my summer, drinking refreshing, long cocktails and beer, and you expect me to think about autumn? It’s just that I don’t make drinks that way. Inventing cocktails for me is not purely a mental exercise. To create a seasonal recipe, I need to be in that season. I need to taste which ingredients are ripe.
And now that it’s fall, what’s so special about the season’s cocktails, anyway? Well, for starters, a large selection of produce is plentiful in most of the United States, from apples, grapes, plums, and pears to quince and figs. The fruit alone is more than enough inspiration, but that’s not to mention herbs, including sage, rosemary, and thyme — or fresh cranberries.
Autumn lasts for just 13 weeks and goes from more to less pleasant weather. As the season changes, so do our cocktail choices. What worked in September might not be as good in November.
During the early part of fall, lighter spirits and tipples are usually in order, while the later part begs for robust and warm flavors.
I like to pair gin with pears and apples, but that’s really a no-brainer since they work well together. The liquor can also be used with cranberries in very exciting ways. And the grape brandy pisco is beautiful with Concord grapes (available only for a few weeks) or figs. Bourbon can easily mix with quince, either raw or as a marmalade, and cognacs play nicely with plums.
Here are some of the fall cocktail recipes we’ll be serving at my New York bar Macao Trading Co. Enjoy!
Dushan Zaric is the co-owner of popular New York City bars Employees Only and Macao Trading Co., and the co-author of Speakeasy. He is also a Liquor.com advisory board member.
This story was originally published at The Hot List: Fall Cocktail Ingredients. For more stories like this, subscribe to Liquor.com for the best in all things cocktails and spirits.