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100+ Cocktails Perfect for Autumn

Pick a produce, pick a spice, and add some of these picks to your fall happy hour menus

By Sarah Ann Noel - October 30, 2018

The second snow is falling in Colorado, and tomorrow it's Halloween. The grocery stores are merchanidising for Thanksgiving dinner, and the local Target stores have started trickling in the Christmas fare. We're deep into autumn and a nostalgic season. It's a time when sights, flavors, and scents mean just a little bit more, and we think that makes for a great opportunity in your restaurant.

This week, our restaurant consultants have focused on some of these traditional aromas and found cocktails based on each. They're the perfect addition to turn your happy hour and special cocktail menus toward "seasonal." Connect with a guest over some profound memory or holiday happiness, and maybe they'll even order two cocktails instead of one.

Cinnamon is a great ingredient any time of the year, but it's the scent of cinnamon when the air turns cold that really tugs on the heartstrings. Bustle has ten warm cinnamon cocktails here, and we were especially drawn to the caramel cinnamon martini for its strong hints of cinnamon and nods toward dessert.

Not so much in Colorado, where the apple orchards are few and far between, but in New York, Boston, and other New England spots, they're wrapping up apple-picking season. Apples are the quintessential taste of summer-turned-fall, juicy, fruity, and just a little bit chilly. The Spruce Eats shared a whole host of apple cocktails here, and the Homecoming Caipirinha, but maybe we're partial to it since it came out of Denver's own Root Down.

Ginger is a traditional holiday flavor--gingerbread cookies, anyone?--and usually paired with another distinct flavor like cinnamon or molasses. But on it's own, with a little sugar perhaps, ginger has the best bite. We like this simple gin and ginger from The Little Epicurean for exactly that reason: It features the ginger, and even though it's iced, it brings just the right amount of heat.

We don't mean to be obvious, but you simply can't leave pumpkin off of a list of autumnal flavors. Pumpkin Spice may feel tired to you, but others would call it tried-and-true. Cosmopolitan has 15 grown-up pumpkin spice options, including a pumpkin spice negroni!

Fireplaces, candles, grandfather's pipe. In most ways, in most seasons, smoke isn't especially welcome. But during the autumn holiday season? In a cocktail? Our restaurant consultants are all about that. If you're in the Denver area, head to Millers + Rossi speakeasy for great smoked bourbon. If not, The Kitchn fills you in on how to smoke your drinks at home.

Some will shy away from this flavor because of it's pure sweetness; but if you're not going to indulge your sweet tooth during this season, when can you? Food & Wine serves up seven maple syrup cocktails that are perfect for a sugary pick-me-up. For a little savory touch, try the salted maple! 

Still didn't find what you're looking for? Hard to believe, but try this list of 32 more drinks from Country Living. Or better yet, contact a restaurant consultant today and perfectly customize your drink menu to your aesthetic and the season.

Photo by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash