The Best Cocktail Recipes to Make This Fall

The Best Cocktail Recipes to Make This Fall

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Having lived in California for so many years, I never really felt very affected by the change of seasons.  That goes for having separate wardrobes for Spring/Summer vs Fall/Winter and for having different cocktail preferences depending on the season.  After moving to Boston (I can’t believe it is 11 years ago) that has certainly changed. 

My clothing choices are definitely weather dependent and we even have a closet that holds all of our winter gear – jackets, gloves, scarves and of course now lots of STIK Beanies, Neckies, Mittens and Pardy Wraps!  But let’s get back to cocktails (one of my favorite subjects.)

In spring and summer, I tend to lean towards more gin based cocktails.  It always seems to be the more refreshing alternative.  This year I also got much more interested in rums, particularly because my daughter Sofia married her best friend Dirk in Puerto Rico in February (yes we were very lucky to get this in before the quarantine.) Adding rum to the repertoire really helped add more variety to my selections.

Now as we head into fall and winter, my palette veers towards darker and more boozy spirits.  In the next week or so I will head over to Marty’s Liquors in Brighton to stock up on Rye, Bourbon, some Brandy and Mezcal.  To accompany and complement those, I will also round out my Amaro and aperitiv inventory (think Amaro Montenegro, Cynar, Campari – all those beautiful Bitters!)

I won’t totally move away from some of my all time and year round favorites like The Last Word and Rum Old Fashioned, but here are a few of my Fall/Winter favorites:

The Vieux-Carre is a fairly new one for me, but turning into one of my favorites.  It’s nice and well balanced and introduces some Brandy (or Cognac.)  It’s definitely spirit forward, but with some nice balance with the Sweet Vermouth and Benedectine.


1 ¼ oz Rye

1 ¼ oz Cognac

1 ¼ oz Sweet Vermouth

2 tsp Benedictine

4 dashes of aromatic bitters

Combine all ingredients and ice

Stir to chill

Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with Maraschino cherry or lemon peel.

As the temperatures go down, I enjoy a nice Manhattan.  Here’s a little twist on a regular Manhattan, with a little bit of a sweet finish due to the amaro.


2 ½ oz Rye (or Bourbon)

1 ½ oz of Amaro (I usually use Amaro Montenegro or Averna

Dash of Angostura bitters

Dash of Orange bitters

Combine all ingredients and ice

Stir to chill

Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with Maraschino cherry.

I think I may have shared this cocktail in a previous blog, but the Tobacco Road is a great one if you like smoke.  Try it on a cold winter evening and anytime with good Mexican food.  This is smoky, boozy and just plain old delicious.


1 ½ oz of reposado Mezcal

1 ¼ oz of Cynar

½ oz of Fino Sherry

2 dashes of Mole bitters (or another aromatic bitter)


Add all ingredients to a rocks glass

Then add a large ice cube (or a few smaller cubes if you don’t have any large ones)

Give a gentle stir (5 seconds or so) and then garnish with a grapefruit peel and a pinch of salt.

This is a bit obscure, but pretty good and worth discovering.  Like the Vieux-Carre, this is spirit forward, but balanced nicely with the Sweet Vermouth and Maraschino Liqueur.


1 1/3 oz Bourbon

¾ oz Sweet Vermouth

¼ oz Cynar

¼ oz Maraschino Liqueur

Combine all ingredients and ice

Stir to chill

Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with Maraschino cherry.


So there you have it, some of my go to and favorite fall/winter cocktails.  But just in case you are not into dark spirits, here are two classics that I can enjoy year round:

The Negroni is an all time classic that is a great mix of refreshing, bitter and smooth.

Equal parts Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth

Combine with ice and stir to chill

Strain into a coupe glass or into rocks glass with ice

Garnish with an Orange twist.

The Last Word – IMO the most perfect cocktail out there – with the perfect balance of ingredients (and surprisingly refreshing thanks to the fresh lime juice!)

Equal parts Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur and fresh Lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake it up!

Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a Maraschino cherry (or slice of lime).


With all the above recipes, the most important thing is to have fun with this sh*t, experiment with proportions and enjoy!  All this talk of cocktails is getting me thirsty and even though I know it is 5:00 pm somewhere, I’ll wait until 5:00 pm here in Boston!

Winter is coming and you know what that means – Beanie Season!

Peter S

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