Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fall Cocktails

The transition from August into September is often quite abrupt here in New England. We go from 90-degree days and 78-degree nights to 70-degree days and 58-degree nights. And when I feel that transition start to happen, I know it's time to start to transition out of my summer Gibsons and cosmos and lemon drop martinis and into my autumn cocktail menu.

During the summer, I enjoy vodka-based cocktails with lighter, sweet-tart flavor combinations, often using fresh herbs from my garden to add a savory edge to a sweet drink. But as the weather cools, I like drinks that warm from the inside, often bourbon- or cognac-based or involving stronger, sharper flavors like ginger and nutmeg. So here are a few of my favorite, warm-you-to-your-toes cocktails that are perfect for those fall evenings by the fire pit.

Brandy Alexander
Combine equal parts cognac, creme de cacao, and half and half over ice in a martini shaker and shake until well blended. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Gold Rush
Combine three parts Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), two parts bourbon, and one part fresh lemon juice over ice in a martini shaker and shake until chilled. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a slice of fresh ginger or a wedge of lemon, if desired.

Cranberry Kiss

Combine 4 parts cranberry juice, 2 parts vodka, and 1 part amaretto, plus a splash of Triple Sec or Grand Marnier, over ice in a martini shaker and shake until chilled. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange wedge or a few fresh cranberries. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your preferred sweetness level!

Bourbon Cider
Start by preparing your glass (either or martini glass or any kind of rocks glass): moisten the rim of the glass with a bit of cider and dip it in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, then place it in the freezer while preparing the cocktail. Combine 2 parts cider and 1 part bourbon over ice in a martini shaker and shake just enough to combine and chill slightly. Pour into the prepared glass and garnish with a rosemary sprig and/or an apple slice or wedge.

Sidecar
Prepare a martini glass by moistening the rim with lemon juice and dipping it in sugar, then place in the freezer to chill. Combine 4 parts cognac with 2 parts Triple Sec or Grand Marnier and 1 part lemon juice over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into prepared glass and garnish with a lemon wedge or peel.

Pumpkin Pie Martini
Rim a martini glass with cinnamon sugar and place in the freezer to chill. Combine 3 parts half and half, 2 parts Bailey's Irish Cream, 1 part vanilla vodka (or vodka plus a splash of Tuaca vanilla liqueur or a few drops of real vanilla extract), couple of generous spoonfuls of pumpkin puree, and a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (make your own with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice) over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake hard to combine and chill all ingredients. Pour into the prepared glass and sprinkle with additional spices.

Hot Apple Pie
Start by warming some apple cider on the stove or in the microwave. Pour 1 part Tuaca and 2 parts hot cider into a mug or heat-proof glass and add a cinnamon stick garnish. Top with whipped cream if desired. You can also add a splash of butterscotch schnapps or caramel vodka.

Coffee Cocktails

There are so many variations on the hot coffee cocktail - here are just a few! Add the following to a steaming hot cup of your favorite blend and top with whipped cream:

Bailey's Coffee:  Add a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Mexican Coffee: Add a scant shot each of Kahlua and tequila

Spanish Coffee: Add a scant shot each of Kahlua and rum; top with a cherry

Amaretto Coffee: Add a generous shot of amaretto; garnish with toasted, sliced almonds, if desired

Irish Coffee: Add a shot each of whiskey and Bailey's Irish Cream; top with a dash of nutmeg

Grand Coffee: Add a shot of Grand Marnier and a pinch of brown sugar

Cafe Grande: Add scant shots of Kahlua, creme de cacao, and Grand Marnier; garnish with a cherry


Slainte!


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