For some, fall means pumpkin-flavored drinks. But for those who just want a little variety, there are plenty of other options out there for your cocktails.

snowbird cocktail with orange on serving tray

The start of fall is signaled by temperatures dropping, leaves changing, and, of course, by pumpkins becoming a part of anything and everything. Yes, fall has most certainly begun when people start decorating with pumpkins, carving them, cooking with, and, of course, putting pumpkin in drinks.

Infamous pumpkin-flavored lattes are not the only similarly infused drinks out there. One only has to search “fall” or “Thanksgiving cocktails” to be greeted by a wave of recipes incorporating pumpkin infusions or flavorings into any and every classic cocktail.

For fans of pumpkin, this is a godsend. But for people (including myself) who aren’t all-in on the great gourd, it can be a little frustrating. There are plenty of fall flavors beyond pumpkin, right? So how do you make a cocktail with them?

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To figure that out, I spoke with Hannah Chamberlain aka SpiritedLA of TikTok fame, Prairie Rose, author of the upcoming Mixology for Beginners, and Alex Jump, the head bartender at Death & Co. in Denver. They all agreed that the core to creating a non-pumpkin cocktail is understanding the classics.

“If you know the basic structure of a highball, a sour, an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, all of that teaches you about what it means to be balanced. So you have a formula in place going in and you can plug in different flavors,” Chamberlain says.

Once you understand the proportions of the classics, it’s time for you to start adding in your own flavors.

“Some of my favorite fall flavors are apple and baking spice, things with like a dark roastiness. Those are really fun and exciting flavors to get to play with in the fall,” Jump says.

Along with Jump, Rose and Chamberlain also emphasized darker, roasty flavors, which, for most fall cocktails, can come in part from the dark spirits. But a fall cocktail can also come from a light spirit classic, like the gin-based Negroni.

“For a long time, I always would go toward darker spirits for the fall, your brandies or your whiskeys,” Rose says. “But I think it depends on the entire ingredient makeup. Some things can translate from season to season like I don’t think Negroni is a seasonal cocktail. I think that can do beautifully in the winter.”

Whether you’re a fan of dark or light spirits, the perfect fall cocktail is about whether it tastes good to you.

Now, it’s time to get drinking. Check out these cocktails from Jump, Chamberlain, and Rose, or create your own. Either way, fall has started and it’s time to start enjoying it, cocktail-style.


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