The Autumnal Ingredients You Should Shake Up In Your Next Cocktail

The splendor of autumn is settling in around us, and it's time to take in all that the season has to offer. A new harvest provides favorite fall flavors of sweet apple, pear, and spiced orange to counter the rich essence of slow-cooked savory fare. Celebrating the season wouldn't be complete without festive libations featuring harvest flavors, and there are a few unique ingredients that can help take your fall cocktails to an indulgent next level.

Whether you're hosting a holiday get-together or just unwinding at the end of a crisp autumn day, it's time to prep your bar with all the flavors of fall. Go-to liquors like brandy, whiskey, and gin move to the front of the cabinet, as do specialty spirits, which have a rightful place as fall mixers. Infused liqueurs and simple syrups can build flavor layers that help remind us of the season with every sip. Raise a glass to fall with these unique spirits and updated autumnal mixers. 

Fall-friendly spirits

Classic liquors create the foundation for building craft cocktails, and Forbes suggests incorporating lesser-known spirits into your mixed drink repertoire if you really want to raise the bar. Building a foundation with unique liquors creates fall-flavored cocktails that your guests and tastebuds won't soon forget. 

If you prefer a mixed drink that isn't overly sweet and features crisp fall flavors, you might enjoy mixing Roku Gin with an Italian apéritif. The Japanese gin boasts the classic flavors of juniper and pine with a surprise hint of yuzu, pepper, green tea, and botanicals (via Distiller). Combine that with a double dose of bitter orange flavor from Campari and Aperol to create a cocktail that looks, smells, and tastes like fall. 

Another Italian apéritif worth trying is Cocchi Americano. According to Serious Eats, it's a fortified wine flavored with bitter cinchona bark, spices, citrus peel, and botanicals. It incorporates subtle fall flavors and a unique herbal essence into your mixed drink menu. Although this wine usually stands alone, mixing it with delicate saké and savory golden tequila will create a craft cocktail that ignites appetites before a holiday meal.  

If you're looking to shake up something sweeter, try combining Bacardi's aged rum with brandy-flavored harvest fruits like apple or pear. Rum's bold brown sugar notes play off the delicate sugariness of the fruits, creating an elegant cocktail that satisfies a sweet tooth.  

Autumnal liqueurs

Infused liqueurs are a must-have mixer if you want to create cocktails with bold, fall-forward flavors. Liqueurs are richer in flavor and sweeter than alcohol, so they are perfect for infusing the subtler liquors, allowing the home bartender to play with classic fall flavors or non-traditional tastes. 

Apples and pears get all the attention, but other harvest fruits like quince and apricot can offer something a bit more unique. Quince, which Tastylicious likens to a combination of pear, citrus, and apple flavors, features a slightly bitter earthiness that plays well with other flavors. When fresh quince is hard to find, Forbes suggests enjoying the flavors of this fall fruit by mixing a quince liqueur into a tequila-based cocktail. The stonefruit sweetness of an apricot liqueur also makes a great mixer boasting less obvious seasonal flavors. 

A daring mixologist can shake things up by creating cocktails featuring seasonal flavors usually reserved for traditional fall foods. Gear Patrol suggests an herbal sage liqueur infused with hints of fennel and lavender to invoke the flavors found at the Thanksgiving table. You can also shake up a drinkable holiday dessert with a barrel-aged brandy pecan liqueur that makes deciding on a mixed drink as easy as pie. And this homemade pumpkin spice liqueur works great as a dessert drink chaser or added to shots as a welcoming party favor. 

Seasonal syrups

Now that you've created a unique base for your signature fall cocktails, it's time to add more complexity with fall-flavored syrups. Whether you opt for a traditional spiced simple syrup or dare to venture outside the glass with a more unique sweetener, adding simple syrups to your cocktail shaker is an ideal way to build flavor layers and sweeten up your mixed drink menu.

A next-level sweetener that packs a surprising fall punch is the blueberry miso syrup featured in Forbes. The recipe may be simple, but the bold umami from the miso and the sweet acidity of the blueberries create a complex syrup that will keep drinkers guessing as they return for refills. While making unique simple syrups, try adding in your favorite honey (in a 2:1 ratio) to create a super sweet mixer that will cause a buzz when blended into a hot toddy or stirred into a pear brandy cocktail.

When you're shaking up a fall cocktail, leave regular ice cubes in the freezer and sub in maple syrup ice cubes from Better Homes & Gardens to keep from watering down delicious fall flavors. These versatile cubes combine with a variety of seasonal spirits to create a cocktail that gets sweeter as it melts. These autumnal cocktail mixers will have you toasting fall with a glass full of seasonal flavors.