Fall is here and for many, that means apple pie, pumpkin bread and hearty stews, but what about a beverage to go with them? When it comes to drinks, you shouldn’t be limited to the usual pumpkin-spiced lattes and Oktoberfest beers. What about cocktails?
Whether you’re a novice bartender, like to experiment with more advanced techniques, or just want to go to a bar and buy the drink yourself, these eight cocktails, including five by New Jersey-based bartenders, are the perfect way to get into the fall spirit.
Negroni de Andrea
Creator: Ricardo Rodriguez
Bar: La Otra – Aberdeen Township, NJ
We all know that a classic Negroni is among the greatest cocktails that has ever been crafted, but for me, it’s the simple template that is the real genius of the drink. The bold Negroni has inspired thousands of riffs by bartenders across the world. NJ-based bartender Ricardo Rodriguez of La Otra Cocktail Bar and Lita—both in Aberdeen Twp, NJ—has a unique Negroni play that is perfect for autumn. Smoky mezcal plays ball as the base spirit, with a scaled-back ratio of Luxardo Bitter Bianco and vermouth to back it up. To bring the drink into the next dimension, Ricardo plays off the convoluted flavor profile of mezcal by adding a hint of green chili liqueur and chocolate, rounded out with Aztec bitters and toasted sesame oil.
- 1 oz mezcal
- .75 oz Luxardo Bitter Bianco
- .75 oz Bianco Vermouth
- .25 oz Ancho Verde
- .25 oz Crème de Cacao
- 1 dash of Fee Brothers Aztec Bitters
- 1 drop of toasted sesame oil
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice until well-chilled. Strain over a large cube and garnish with grated chocolate and sesame seeds.
Fall Spice Cynar Sour
Creator: Gabriel Rieben
Bar: 143 Social – Jersey City, NJ
Gabriel Rieben, the mastermind behind 143 Social—the hidden cocktail bar that took Jersey City by storm last year—is ready for fall. His fall-spiced Cynar sour utilizes the popular amaro, made from artichokes, as the base for a five-spice-laced sour that hits all the notes of a proper autumn cocktail. Tart, spiced and slightly sweet, Rieben’s Cynar sour is addicting.
- 1.5 oz Cynar
- .5 oz Amara Sicilian Blood Orange Amaro
- .75 oz spiced agave syrup (see note)
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 egg white
To a tin, add egg white and remaining ingredients. Without ice, shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds to incorporate air into the cocktail. Open your tin and add ice. Shake for an additional 20 seconds and double strain into a chilled coup. Garnish with fresh grated cinnamon and a blood orange wheel.
For the spiced agave syrup, combine 8 oz of fresh water with 2 tsp five spice powder. Heat while stirring until powder is dissolved. Add 8 oz of pure agave, simmer while stirring until dissolved. Allow to cool and fine strain into a bottle or container. Store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
Orange Rosemary Gimlet
Creator: Alexis DeLeon
Bar: Ombra – Boonton, NJ
Ombra is bringing the classic gin gimlet into the fall spirit with this orange and rosemary riff. Brooklyn gin, fresh orange juice and rosemary syrup sing a simple, yet profound melody in this three-ingredient cocktail. Bartender Alexis DeLeon employs a method known as acid adjusting to bring freshly-squeezed orange juice—which is generally lower in acid—up to similar levels you would find in that of lemon or lime. A crucial ingredient in this lime-less sour, the acid-adjusted OJ brings the tartness that is expected in a gimlet. Acid-adjusted juices can be used in a variety of cocktails. You’ll need to pull out the scale to make it, but the method is simple and is worth trying out for someone who has already conquered the basics of bartending.
- 2 oz Brooklyn Gin
- 1 oz acid-adjusted orange juice (see note)
- .75 oz rosemary syrup (see note)
Add all ingredients to a tin and shake for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled champagne flute or coupe. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Served up.
For acid-adjusted orange juice, mix 8 oz of freshly-squeezed orange juice with 13 grams of citric acid (can be bought here). For the rosemary simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a pot and heat until dissolved. Steep 8-10 rosemary sprigs in the syrup until desired flavor.
Creator: Wilson Oliver
Bar: Ava’s Kitchen & Bar – Kenilworth, NJ
At Ava’s Kitchen & Bar in Kenilworth, NJ they are serving up some incredible drinks to go with their top-rated pizza lineup. Bartender Wilson Oliver is slinging tropical-inspired fall cocktails all season long. His Zombie Zoo combines Puerto Rican Rum with New Jersey-made Laird’s Apple Brandy. An apple-spiced syrup and coconut finish off what is an exploration of fall flavors, with the signature tropical twist that Ava’s has become known for.
- 1.5 oz Bacardi 8-Year (Or another aged Puerto Rican rum)
- .5 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy Bottled in Bond
- .5 oz coconut cream (equal parts coconut cream and coconut milk)
- .75 oz apple spice syrup (see note)
- .75 oz fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake with ice until thoroughly chilled. Strain over ice and serve.
For the apple-spice syrup, combine equal parts apple juice (fresh-pressed if possible) and demerara sugar in a saucepan. Add 8-10 cinnamon sticks, heat until sugar dissolves, cool and store.
Fall-Spiced Jungle Bird
Creator: Matt Brown
Bar: Osteria Crescendo – Westwood, NJ
Matt Brown at Osteria Crescendo loves to play around with tiki-inspired flavors. This autumnal Jungle Bird riff hits all the notes of a fall cocktail while remaining pleasantly tropical around the edges. Like celebrating Thanksgiving at the beach, the rum-based cocktail switches out the usual Campari for the deeply rich Italian amaro, Averna. Allspice Dram—a popular Jamaican cocktail ingredient—makes an appearance to round out what is a rather electrifying take on a tiki classic.
- 1 oz Plantation 3 Star Rum (or another white rum)
- .5 oz Averna
- .25 oz Velvet Falernum and Allspice Dram blend (see note)
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- .5 oz demerara simple syrup (see note)
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin and shake vigorously until chilled and properly diluted (about 20 seconds). Strain over ice and garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.
For the Velvet Falernum and Allspice Dram blend, simply mix equal parts of the spirits and bottle. To make the syrup, combine equal parts demerara sugar and water in a saucepan, heat until dissolved and cool.
Calling All Cars
Creator: Peter Candia
Bar: New Jersey Digest
Calling All Cars is my homage to New Jersey and the fall. The cocktail is a riff on the classic Sidecar, swapping out the usual Cognac for Laird’s Applejack (apple brandy) and adding a touch of Amaro Nonino—an amaro that is rich with flavors of spice, vanilla and honey. Applejack is a spirit that has been made in New Jersey since 1698. The name, Calling All Cars, is a reference to the season 4 finale of The Sopranos by the same name. An NJ spirit and an NJ name, it’s a seasonal New Jersey drink through and through.
- 1.25 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy Bottled in Bond
- .75 oz Dry Curaçao
- .25 oz Amaro Nonino
- .75 oz fresh lemon juice
- 50/50 mix of cinnamon sugar
- Orange twist
Prepare a chilled coupe by rimming one-half of the glass with cinnamon and sugar. Meanwhile, in a shaker tin, combine all liquid ingredients and shake vigorously with ice for 20 seconds or until properly chilled and diluted. Double strain into your dressed coupe, express the orange twist over the top and discard.
The Cynar Spritz
Spritzes shouldn’t only be limited to the warmer months. If the Aperol Spritz is the drink of the summer, then the Cynar Spritz is fall and winter’s own. Like its more popular big sister, the Cynar Spritz only contains 3 ingredients. The main component, Cynar, is an Italian amaro made from artichokes and various other spices, herbs and roots. It is bitter, earthy andis deeply flavored with baking spice. Cynar can be switched out for an array of other dark, Italian amaros (Braulio, Sfumato, etc.) and deliver a similarly fall-minded cocktail, though the taste will differ greatly.
- 2 oz Cynar
- 3 oz Prosecco or other sparkling wine
- 1 oz club soda
- Orange twist or olive (optional)
Pour Cynar into a wine glass and fill with ice. Add sparkling wine and top off with club soda. Finish with a twist of orange or three skewered olives.
Creator: Jerry Thomas or a local bartender from Martinez, CA (no one really knows).
The Martinez is a classic cocktail that never got the same praise and glamor as its brother, the Martini. However, the Martinez actually pre-dates the Martini by some years. Many claim that the founding father of bartending, Jerry Thomas, invented the drink, while others swear by a Martinez, CA local as the culprit. What can’t be argued is that the cocktail first appeared in writing when O.H. Byron released “The Modern Bartenders’ Guide” in 1884. The cocktail drinks similarly to a Manhattan, featuring sweet vermouth as a significant portion of its makeup. Split with gin, it is deeply rich and the perfect way to cheers to the forthcoming winter months.
- 1.5 oz London Dry gin (like Tanqueray or Fords)
- 1.5 oz sweet vermouth
- 1 tsp of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Orange twist
In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients (except orange twist) and fill with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until amply chilled—strain into a chilled coupe or Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with an expressed orange peel.
About the Author/s
Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.