Fall Cocktail Ideas from Best Bartenders
Credit: Daniel Nguyen

Rosemary, maple, and nutmeg, oh, my! The influx of autumnal drinks hits craft cocktail bars every year, and happily, nowadays most barkeeps know not to overdo it on the heavy hitters. (Cloves and cinnamon, we’re looking at you). Because no one wants to take a sip of a potpourri shop. And for that matter, there are only so many pumpkin beers a gal or guy can drink.

We reached out to bartenders from Boston to Austin to snag their easiest, most beloved fall drinks. Here they are, so get that bar cart stocked up before the leaves start to turn.


David Moo, Quarter Bar, Brooklyn, New York
Elegant and aromatic with just a hint of rosemary, this twist on a margarita is addictive on its own or paired with—amazingly—pizza.

3/4 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup (see below)
1/2 oz egg white
3/4oz fresh lime juice
1½ oz good-quality blanco tequila

Rosemary Simple Syrup:
14 oz sugar
14 oz water
3-4 oz package of rosemary sprigs, left whole or broken in half, lengthwise

To make the rosemary simple syrup: combine water and sugar in small, heatproof pot. Stirring occasionally, bring the sugar mixture to boiling. Immediately reduce heat, add rosemary to pot. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 60 minutes. Strain.

Combine all ingredients including rosemary syrup in a shaker. Top with copious ice. Shake very vigorously for 10 seconds to froth egg. Strain and serve up, in a chilled coupe or other stemmed cocktail glass.

Red Maple Swizzle

Jackson Cannon, The Hawthorne, Boston, Massachusetts
This drink—an autumnal sibling of the dark and stormy, but featuring lime rather than lemon, and a dash of bitters for balance—is a favorite of Hawthorne owner Cannon.

2 oz Jamaican Rum (such as Smith and Cross)
1 oz Grade A Maple Syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Combine all ingredients in a highball glass with ice. Swizzle (or stir, using a tall spoon). Serve.

The Courtney Riot

Ryan Gannon, Cure, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mezcal—the newly popular Mexican spirit—can play at autumn, too. In this sly nod to the Tiki resurgence, grapefruit and cinnamon lend beautiful aromatics to French whiskey and smoky mezcal.

For the Cinnamon Syrup:
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks

1 oz Armorik Breton Whisky
.5 oz El Buho Mezcal
.25 oz Haas Brothers Amargo Vallet
.5 oz lime
.5 oz Cinnamon Syrup
Ground cinnamon, to garnish
Grapefruit peel, to garnish

To make the cinnamon syrup: combine sugar, cinnamon, and 1cup water in a small pan over medium heat. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain, and allow syrup to cool before using.

Pour all liquid ingredients, reserving powdered cinnamon and grapefruit peel, into a highball glass. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice and swizzle for 10 seconds. Fill glass three-quarters of the way with more crushed ice. Swizzle for 10 more seconds. Fill glass to top. Garnish with grated cinnamon. Twist grapefruit peel over top to express oils, and use to garnish glass. Serve.

Ginger Snap by Brett Esler

Brett Esler, Whisler’s, Austin, Texas
Ginger may more often befriend rum in cocktails, but it plays beautifully with gin, especially when brightened with a touch of orange.

1.5 oz Aviation gin
1 oz Dolin dry vermouth
1 oz Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
1 bar spoon Combier orange liqueur
Lemon peel, for garnish

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass full of ice and stir for about 20 seconds, or until properly chilled.Strain into an old-fashioned glass over 1 large ice cube. Twist lemon peel over glass to express oils; use to garnish glass. Serve.

Mr. October

Timothy Miner, Magic Touch Cocktails, Brooklyn, New York
A favorite among those who visit Miner at Brooklyn’s Long Island Bar, this drink combines cinnamon, apple, and nutmeg—those classic fall flavors—to gorgeous effect. (It’s no surprise Miner hails from New England!)

For the Cinnamon Syrup:
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks

1.5 oz Laird's bonded apple brandy
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz Cinnamon Syrup (see above)
.5 oz Galliano L'Authentico
2 Dashes St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram
Fresh Nutmeg

To make the cinnamon syrup: combine sugar, cinnamon, and 1 cup water in a small pan over medium heat. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain, and allow syrup to cool before using.

To mix the cocktail: combine all ingredients except nutmeg in a shaker with ice. Shake. Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and grate fresh nutmeg over the top. Serve.