Cold weather calls for more robust drinks, not just pumpkin spice

It was not because it rained that we came out of the woods again, due to the drought. But a huge storm, Halloween, and a time change certainly mean one thing: summer is over. And while we may wonder whether or not California is having a fall, we know that not all we experience is summer. Sure, there are still blackberries in the grocery stores (and they are delicious) and leaves on the trees (damn the conifers), but the guards at the evening patio will tell you it’s cold out there.

Celebrate fall with an Espresso Manhattan.

And cold weather calls for more robust drinks. The switch from clear cocktails to brown cocktails happens every year in bars (martinis to Manhattans), but the switch from lighter refreshing drinks in summer to richer, more complex cocktails in fall often goes unnoticed – until now.

With that in mind, I bring you four fall offerings designed to warm the soul and fortify the spirit, and located for your consumption.

Fall doesn’t have to mean pumpkin or pumpkin spice all the time.

California Gray Whales begin their annual migration along the California coast in late October and early November. They escape the cold in their own way, and we escape it ours.

Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II», The host of Barfly Podcast on iTunes and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him on and contact him at [email protected]


Manhattan Expresso

1 ounce of Redwood Empire Pipe Dream Bourbon Whiskey

1 ounce of Irish cream (Baileys, Carolans, etc.)

1 ounce of freshly ground espresso coffee

3 coffee beans

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir until cold, then strain into a chilled martini / Manhattan glass. Garnish with three coffee beans.

If an espresso martini can be vodka, Irish cream, and espresso (not vermouth), then a Manhattan espresso can be whiskey, Irish cream, and espresso (no vermouth either) .

To note: Pipe Dream takes its name from the 14th tallest tree on the planet, one of those pesky evergreen coastal redwoods mentioned above.

Macadamia Rum Sour

2 ounces of Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum “Red Head” with macadamia nuts

1 ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 ounce of simple syrup

1 egg white

1/8 ounce of sparkling water

3 crushed roasted macadamia nuts

Combine the first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir until frothy, then strain into a chilled cut glass. Sprinkle with crushed macadamia nut mousse.

To note: A little sparkling water will help the egg white foam to hold its shape longer. Aquafaba (canned chickpeas in water are stored) can also replace egg whites, but in this drink the extra richness of the egg adds necessary structure.

Cosmopolitan mandarin pomegranate

1 ½ ounce Hanson of Sonoma Organic Mandarin Vodka

¾ ounce of good quality triple sec (Cointreau, Combier, etc.)

½ ounce of freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1/8 ounce of Grenadine Sonoma Syrup Co.

3 pomegranate seeds

Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir until iced then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.

To note: Grenadine was originally a pomegranate syrup until mass production reduced much of it to sugar and red food coloring. Look for a premium brand made from real pomegranates and you won’t regret it. Mandarins and Meyer lemons are fall and winter citrus fruits and offer deliciously different orange flavors.

Gin Mary (Red Snapper)

1 ½ ounces of Gray Whale gin

3 ounces of organic tomato juice

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 drops of hot garlic sauce (Tapatio, Cholula, etc.)

1 pinch of cumin

King Floyd Black Lava Salt

1 lime wedge

1 lemon wedge

1 spear of dill pickle

Dampen a spot on the rim of the serving glass with a lime wedge, dab the moistened spot with black lava salt, fill with ice and set aside. In a mixing glass without ice, add the gin, tomato juice, horseradish, black pepper, hot sauce and cumin. Stir until well combined. Pour the combined mixture into a serving glass and garnish with a wedge of pickle and a lemon wedge.

To note: The Red Snapper cocktail came right after the original Bloody Mary (1920s-1930s), but eventually faded into obscurity, in part perhaps because of the name. Made with gin, it’s a much more robust and interesting drink, perfect for fall.

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