As late summer temperatures cool and those cozy autumn vibes kick in, we're shifting our drink choices accordingly.
Some of our favorite Bay Area bartenders are spiking their cocktails with seasonal fixings—think cinnamon, turmeric, and dates—while others are finding comfort in playing with childhood favorites (boozy Count Chocula, anyone?).
Here five local bar stars share their fall cocktail recipes, all of which can be enjoyed on site (finally!), as to-go versions, or mixed up at home. Cheers, and stay safe.
Cocktail Recipe: Calavera's Nixta, an Old Fashioned with a corn whiskey twist.
(Courtesy of Calavera)
At Oakland's Calavera, Grandé Antonio adds a muddle to his variation of an Old Fashioned cocktail by including a Mexican staple: maize.
"To make this fall cocktail and stay true to the Calavera style, I used Abasolo—a native corn whisky from Mexico," he says. "Muddling roasted corn, a fresh slice of ginger, orange peel, and Demerara sugar mimics the way indigenous people would make a salsa fresca with a molcajete. This cocktail is a wonderful marriage of an Old Fashioned and the taste of Mexico."
2 ounces Abasolo Corn Whisky
1/4 ounce sherry (Aurora Pedro Ximénez)
1 ounce roasted corn
1 slice ginger
3 dashes Angostura bitters
3 dashes orange bitters
1 peel orange
1 teaspoon Demerara sugar
Combine the roasted corn, ginger, orange peel, bitters, sherry, and sugar into a mixing glass. Muddle well into a paste-like mash, then add the whisky and ice. Stir vigorously for 20 seconds. Double strain into a rocks glass with one large cube.
// Calavera, 2337 Broadway, Oakland, calaveraoakland.com
Drink Recipe: Le Colonial's Quarantine Cocktail—your daily dose of turmeric.
Lead bartenders Ignacio (Natcho) Garcia and Gabriel (Gabby) Toledo created this seasonal sipper.
"Considering that all of us have personal health and wellbeing on our minds, we felt that this refreshing, turmeric-infused gin and ginger cocktail delivers health benefits in a tasty libation and an excuse for a cocktail during quarantine times."
2 ounces gin (or turmeric-infused gin*)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (if not using turmeric-infused gin)
Juice of ½ a lime
3-4 ounces ginger beer
Lime wheels and candied ginger for garnish
Add ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into highball glass filled 2/3 of the way with ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel and candied ginger.
*To make turmeric-infused gin, soak a peeled root of the spice in four ounces of the spirit overnight.
// Le Colonial, 721 Sutter St. (TenderNob), lecolonialsf.com
Cocktail Recipe: Sidebar's Darkest Before Dawn, an adult beverage for Count Chocula lovers.
(Courtesy of Sidebar)
Jared Hirsch, bar manager at Sidebar in Oakland, explains his comfort cocktail:
"I love the milk at the bottom of my cereal bowl so much, I use it as an ingredient in drinks. For this recipe, I used that nostalgic monster cereal, Count Chocula, and paired that chocolatey goodness with Cherry Bomb, our cherry-cacao-coffee syrup. This drink can be made with or without alcohol and, as there's no caffeine in our syrups, it's completely safe for kids."
2 ounces Count Chocula–infused milk*
1 ounce Cherry Bomb syrup
1 ounce vodka (or more milk)
Add ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour over a large ice cube in a rocks glass and garnish with pieces of cereal.
* To make cereal milk, submerge cereal in enough milk to cover. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain out cereal.
// Sidebar, 542 Grand Ave, Oakland, sidebar-oaktown.com
Cocktail Recipe: Elixir's Maple Rye Sour, an elevated take on the whiskey classic.
(Courtesy of Elixir)
H. Joseph Ehrmann, Elixir's proprietor, created this take on the traditional whiskey sour, perfect for warming up during San Francisco's fall evenings.
1/2 ounce Rittenhouse 100 Rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Tap 357 Maple Rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Bekerovka
3 ounces Fresh Victor Lemon Sour
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour over ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
// Elixir, 3200 16th St. (Mission), elixirsf.com
Cocktail Recipe: From Alexander's Steakhouse, the Once Upon a Time in Mexico is like molé but in boozy fashion.
Nicholas Bonney, bar manager at Alexander's Steakhouse SF, wanted to emulate a traditional molé in alcoholic form when he created this cocktail.
"Salty, savory, sweet, sour, spicy, and smoky—these notes all hit your palate in succession, pleasantly confusing your mind. The goal was to have the drink get more complex as you drink it and try to decipher which ingredients are creating which flavors."
1½ ounce mezcal (Bruxo x)
½ ounce creme de cacao (Giffard)
1 ounce date vinegar (Huilerie Beaujolaise)
1 ounce pineapple juice
½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 dash firewater habanero bitters
Add ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour over a large ice cube in a glass half rimmed with cinnamon and worm salt (sal de gusano). Garnish with a date wheel and cinnamon stick.
// Alexander's Steakhouse, 448 Brannan St, (SoMa), alexanderssteakhouse.com