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Autumn is a beautiful time on the coast, with our abundance of pumpkin patches and uncharacteristically sunny coastal days. After a bustling day in the city and braving our Bay Area traffic, there is something special about getting home, settling in, and mixing a drink.

Whether it is just for you, or for an autumn gathering, seasonal cocktails can make any moment festive. As the evenings get colder and the leaves fall, here are a few easy cocktails to get you in the spirit of autumn. (See what I did there?)

Pumpkin Spice Old Fashioned

Why let our lattes have all the fun? As the weather chills, my spirit of choice is Rye.  This cocktail can also be made with Bourbon or Whiskey, depending on your preference. The warming spice and rich, mellow flavor of this drink call for a cozy relaxing evening in.   

A little more labor intensive, the pumpkin spice syrup can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up 2 months.  

pumpkin spice old fashioned

 

  • 2 oz. Rye Whiskey
  • ¼ oz. Pumpkin Spice Syrup (see recipe)
  • Garnish: Strip of zest from an orange 

Fill pint glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Pour Rye and Pumpkin Spice Syrup over ice and stir in a circular motion for 10 rounds.  Strain over low ball glass with a large ice cube.  Squeeze the orange peel and rub around the rim of the glass then drop into the drink.

Warm Apple Pie Cocktail

At your next fall dinner party, serve this delicious warm cocktail instead of dessert and watch your guests swoon. Sweet and comforting, this cocktail can be served through the New Year.  This recipe uses Tuaca, a Brandy based Italian Liqueur with citrus and vanilla notes.  If by some miracle you don’t go through all of the Tuaca on this recipe, it is a great after dinner aperitif served on ice. 

warm apple pie cocktail

 

  • 2 oz. Tuaca
  • 4 oz. Apple Cider
  • Garnish: Whipped cream and freshly Grated Nutmeg

Warm 4 oz. (1/2 cup) of apple cider for each cocktail you would like to make.  Add 2 oz. (1/4 cup) of Tuaca to each mug or glass.  Personally, I think this cocktail looks great in a half pint mason jar.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with fresh grated nutmeg.

Chai-tini

When you can’t make it to one of Half Moon Bay's excellent coffee shops for a Chai Tea Latte, this spiced sweet martini will definitely do. I have served this beautiful and easy martini at many a gathering and it always delivers rave reviews.  This recipe can be scaled up easily and made ahead, which allows you to serve an impressive specialty cocktail without playing bartender all evening.

chaitini

 

Place all ingredients except for garnish in a shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon. 

To scale up mix all of the ingredients in a pitcher and pour into a shaker as needed.

Liz Smith Finders is a chef, who sometimes writes. Originally from the Midwest, she grew up fishing, hunting, foraging and gardening. Growing up on an organic farm her happiest memories include the smell of wet dirt, the snap of a sour apple fresh from the tree, and watching the humble strength of a tiny seed. As a chef, she has been lucky enough to train in some of the best kitchens in the world from Chez Panisse to Noma. Liz, her husband, 2 dogs, and 6 chickens are so grateful to have made a home on the Coastside and are loving every minute.