Pumpkin ale, huckleberries, smokey tinctures, and burnt leaves are showing up on cocktail lists all over town. Call them reminders of fall after the 5 o'clock hour. Here now, seven new autumn drinks that conjure up fallen leaves, spiced pie, crisp air, and gingerbread, all within the confines of a cozy bar.
1) The BSC from Delarosa
Maple syrup, peaty scotch, sherry and absinthe come together behind the bar at Delarosa in the Marina for a bracing fall sip in The BSC. Bartender Matt Harrison describes the drink with poetic flair: "As the peat and smoke evoke footsteps crunching on sunburnt leaves, absinthe recalls the snap in the air. Sherry, an old friend, not seen in some time, comes to the fore, and maple brings the lasting warmth of stepping into an inviting home." Yes, a bartender wrote that.
2) The Rum Shaker from Jasper's Corner Tap
The perennial pumpkin pie in a glass is back for its second autumn at Jasper's. Bartender Kevin Diedrich shakes pumpkin syrup with egg white, cream, citrus, and white rum to make the "filling," then pours in a hefty swig of pumpkin ale for the "crust." If this isn't fall in liquid form, we don't know what is.
3) The Mexican Piano from AQ
A smoldering seasonal take on the margarita, AQ's Mexican Piano comes onto the menu each October, as the restaurant decor begins to burst with amber leaves. Bartender Tim Zohn shakes Espolon tequila with lime juice and seasonal tarragon-huckleberry syrup, which gives the drink a gorgeous fuschia hue. The dramatic flourish here is a Bay leaf that's torched to order and placed in the glass. The smoke smells "an awful lot like marijuana," according to owner Matt Semmelhack, as it rises from the glass as you take the first sips.
4) The Last Caress from The Alembic
Bringing nutty, citrusy, creamy and bitter flavors together in one dainty digestif glass, The Last Caress is beyond comparison. The layer of pistachio-infused cream on top and a dash of Blue Bottle Coffee tincture gently nod to the classic Irish Coffee, while a base of housemade limoncello and sweet vermouth take the flavor profile to a darkly mysterious place. It's a great drink to settle into for a mood-shift at the end of meal. Or, as the menu description puts it, "Have a sip of The Last Caress, then we'll talk."
5) The Sutton & Soda from Maverick
Shaken with Sutton Cellars dry vermouth, late harvest Tocai Friulano, and orange, the key to this drink is a heady shot of "winter bitters," made by Adam Nelson of Two Mile Wines in Oakland from "a million ingredients," according to owner and wine director Mike Pierce. Clove, nutmeg, sasparilla, allspice, and sandalwood are just some of the notes that remind us of freshly baked gingerbread. Refreshing and light, yet faintly smoky, sipping this drink is like collapsing into a freshly raked pile of fall leaves.
6) Caliente Sunrise from Txoko
Barman Jason Brown is serious about making all of his ingredients in house, which means "grenadine" made from the reduced juice of pomegranates, one of the most fall-ish fruits we can think of. This drink is a riff on the classic tequila sunrise, made modern (and way tastier) with the substitution of serrano chile-infused El Jimador tequila, and house-squeezed and carbonated orange juice, for a captivating sweet, bubbly concoction that builds heat as you sip.
7) Ruby Chai Appletini from Elixir
This drink's main ingredients are Square One organic vodka and organic apple cider, both of them infused with Numi's ruby chai tea for a deeply spiced flavor. It's garnished with a simple slice of Gala apple, to further mark the arrival of fall.
Have a favorite fall tipple we missed? Do share it with the world in the comments section.