Fall Cocktails

By Chandra Orr

August 6, 2010 6 min read

Whether you're planning a big Halloween bash or just hosting an intimate family affair for Thanksgiving, cocktails that capture the spirit of the season make a bold statement. For Halloween, let the eerie evenings and sweet treats of fall inspire cocktails that are as comforting as they are delicious. On the spookiest of holidays, pair classics -- such as apple, pumpkin and chocolate -- with cinnamon and maple for trick-or-treat-style temptations. "Apple and pumpkin are obvious choices because these are harvested in the fall and are easy to incorporate. Chocolate works because the holiday typically involves gorging on lots of candy," says Tim McCaffery, founder and chief bartender for Lime Tree Cove, a specialty retailer featuring signature cocktail spices and unique barware. Add flavored sugars and spices to the rims of cocktail glasses for a gourmet touch. Transform pumpkin-flavored beer into a dessert-worthy indulgence by adding cinnamon sugar to the rim; spice up a classic rum and Coke with maple sugar; pair hot apple cider with spiced rum and cinnamon sugar for instant apple pie in a glass. "Cinnamon and maple are less obvious choices, but by rimming the cocktail with cinnamon sugar or maple sugar, you incorporate all the flavors of fall and make the cocktail taste like a dessert," McCaffery says. For crisp, cool evenings, apple and pumpkin are sure to comfort, but nothing says Halloween quite like chocolate. Pair hot cocoa with Baileys Irish cream and raspberry-flavored sugar on the rim, or dive straight into the candy bowl with the "nutty candy" cocktail, a chocolate concoction that blends equal parts amaretto, chocolate liqueur and coconut milk. "The nutty candy was inspired by those 'joyful' coconut-, chocolate- and almond-flavored candy bars. It's an easy recipe to remember -- just three ingredients," says Valerie Peterson, author of "Peterson's Happy Hour: Spirited Cocktails and Helpful Hints To Brighten Daily Life." "For large parties, post the recipe, the ingredients, the shaker and the measuring jigger at the bar and let your guests have fun mixing their own cocktails -- and steal a candy bar from the kids' haul for garnish."*Thanksgiving Treats For Thanksgiving, look to cranberry and mint to accent the meal and get guests in the holiday spirit. "Cranberry is an excellent flavor to incorporate at Thanksgiving because it's an important addition to the meal but it's not the main flavor. It complements nicely," McCaffery says. "An obvious choice is the berrytini with cranberry juice, cr?me de cacao, vodka and chocolate raspberry sugar on the rim." Cranberry-infused vodka and pear juice also make mean holiday martinis -- or add a hint of cranberry juice to classic citrus-based cocktails, such as screwdrivers and mimosas, for a new twist on perennial favorites. Keep the fall theme going with autumnal garnishes, such as dried apple slices and candied citrus peel. Peterson's "cornucopia sangria," which combines seasonal sweet apples and cranberries with a fresh citrus twist, is quick, easy and sure to impress. The bold blend helps balance the dense turkey and spicy side dishes, while the citrus gives the palate a punch during the heavy meal. "Sangria is an easy and budget-friendly beverage to serve to a Thanksgiving crowd, and except for opening the bottles, most of the recipe is make-ahead," Peterson says. "This sangria utilizes the apples and clementines from your centerpiece fruit basket with seasonally appropriate fresh cranberries and sparkling apple cider to crowd-pleasing effect." After dinner, liven up a cup of joe for a big holiday send-off. "Post-meal cocktails are always a big question," McCaffery says. "People are stuffed, and the conversation drifts toward Christmas. A perfect cocktail to send out Thanksgiving and welcome Christmas is espresso with Kahl?a and mint-infused sugar on the rim." Simply brew some Java, and add a dash of coffee-flavored liqueur. Dip the mug in mint-flavored sugar. Add a peppermint stick as garnish. NUTTY CANDY COCKTAIL Servings: 1 1 1/2 ounces amaretto 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate liqueur (Godiva original or dark cr?me de cacao) 1 1/2 ounces coconut milk Chocolate bar for garnish Combine amaretto, dark chocolate liqueur and coconut milk in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until coconut milk is well incorporated. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a curl of chocolate from candy bar on top. (Recipe from Valerie Peterson's "Peterson's Happy Hour: Spirited Cocktails and Helpful Hints To Brighten Daily Life," Clarkson Potter, 2010.) CORNUCOPIA SANGRIA Servings: 8-10 1 cup whole cranberries 1 large orange or 2 clementines 8 ounces orange liqueur (triple sec) 2 apples 1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine, well-chilled 1 750-milliliter bottle nonalcoholic sparkling cider, well-chilled Coarsely chop cranberries in food processor or by hand, making sure to pierce all the cranberries. Cut citrus into 1/2-inch chunks with peels on. Place chopped cranberries and citrus into a 3-quart pitcher. Add orange liqueur, and muddle the fruit into the liqueur with a wooden spoon or muddler to release the juices. Core apples, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Add apples, and mix with other fruit. Cover and macerate fruit for at least 2 hours. Mixture may be stored in the refrigerator up to 24 hours. Before serving, add chilled wine and sparkling cider. Stir to mix. Serve in highball glasses, making sure each serving includes fruit. (Recipe from Valerie Peterson's "Peterson's Holiday Helper: Festive Pick-Me-Ups, Calm-Me-Downs & Handy Hints To Keep You in Good Spirits," Clarkson Potter, 2008.)COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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