The 13 Cocktail Trends That Are Making A Comeback For Fall 2022

The change of seasons opens the possibilities for new flavors and experimentation behind the bar. Spirit trends — like film, fashion, and the culinary scene —  often return in cycles. This year, we're looking back for inspiration, while still enjoying fresh and delicious combinations for the cooler months. Whether you're looking to switch up on the classics or partake in the zero-proof and low-alcohol movement, we spoke with the professionals about what to look forward to with cocktails trends that are making a big comeback in fall 2022.

Remember the '90s? Well, good thing you don't have to, since the nostalgia for the decade that gave us the cosmo and the espresso martini is influencing drink menus in a big way. Recently, many people started to explore the origin and heritage of the alcohol inside their glass, with mezcal and rum receiving renewed attention beyond the annual gravitation to warming cocktails as one delicious answer to beating the crisp chill in the air. Of course, while canned cocktails have been taking over shelves this summer, we're here to celebrate the arrival of bright citrus, savory umami, and emerging renewed interest in complex "tropical" drinks that speak to the terroir of a region more than a stint at an all-inclusive resort (not here to judge!).

Make your favorite classic cocktail with mezcal

Mezcal has been steadily growing in popularity in the last five years, according to an IWSR, with agave spirits forecasted to grow by 40% over the next five years. The smoky spirit is making an appearance this fall as the replacement in some of our favorite classic cocktails, such as a Negroni Oaxacan style, hot toddy, or an old fashioned.

Casamata beverage director and agave expert Yana Volfson feature mezcal as a prominent spirit at the properties she oversees, including COSME in NYC and Damian Los Angeles. "Mezcal and tequila cocktails are already the number one sellers on diversified cocktail lists around the world," Volfson tells us. "With trendy, fall seasonal changes and mood in the markets, I think we will have spice-driven cocktails and, perhaps, a hot cocktail or two on menus to come."

Mezcal plays well with citrus, such as the traditional orange slice or grapefruit, which is a winter crop in the U.S. despite year-round availability at your local grocery store. Lauded mixologist Chris McMillian of Revel Bar & Cafe in New Orleans has a Oaxacan Old Fashioned in the aptly named Renaissance section of the drink menu. For a mezcal cocktail home, we recommend starting with a Oaxacan Negroni using an approachable spirit in the category, such as the artisanal Producer Ensamble, or the Del Maguey Vida line — including the brand's autumnal expression, Vida de Muertos, in celebration of Día de Los Muertos — in the ubiquitous green bottle.

Tea as a base for complex cocktails

Tea-infused cocktails are as old as the Colonial era. NPR reports the ability to transport and keep ice caused a boozy iced tea craze in the U.S. — well before the nonalcoholic version became a staple (thanks, Prohibition!). Ryan Polhemus, the bar director of Boston's Offsuit, told us the shift toward drier drinks with complex flavors is one of the reasons tea-infused cocktails are making a comeback, "How many times have you heard someone order a drink at a bar and follow it up with 'not too sweet, ok?' Tea presents a perfect solution, and I think we'll be seeing a lot more of it in the future."

Mixologists are making more than just hot toddies. Limantour in Mexico City, considered one of the 50 best bars in the world, features a cocktail with gin, black tea, soda, dolin dry, and apricot for fall. Zou Zou's, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant by chef Madeline Sperling, offers the Zou Zou's Brew cocktail made with gin, ginger beer, and borage flower tea.

For a tea-infused cocktail at home, start with a premium tea like Vahdam India, which makes anti-inflammatory turmeric spiced and ginger tea that founder Bala Sarda says makes a mean golden milk latte — and pairs well with a light spirit like herbaceous gin. Or, try a delicious Earl Greyhound Fizz, mixing tea, vodka, grapefruit, and seltzer.

Fortified wine in cocktails is a star ingredient

Sherry is the girlie for fall 2022. Fortified wines, like the sherry, are wine mixed with spirits, then aged or aromatized with herbs as in the case of vermouth. Whether using a dry Fino or sweet cream sherry, cocktails with fortified wine are all about balance, complexity, and tradition. As a bonus, using fortified wine as the base of a cocktail results in a lower-alcohol drink, which, according to IWSR, has bartenders answering the call for the demand for healthier consumption.

Limantour, which Food & Wine Español calls a Mexico City institution, features the Mustacchioni cocktail on its new "Confabulario" menu with intense flavors that are made with two types of tequila, Campari, and tawny port. At The McKittrick Hotel in NYC, through October, the Serpent's Kiss is a new cocktail with Pedro Ximenez sherry, grapefruit and rose-infused vodka, Campari, and crème de cacao. Insider Bar, named in the top 15 of the 50 best bars, features a lilac Americano with Campari, white Porto, lilac soda, and Fino sherry. And the lauded bar program at Artesian in London showcased a vodka cocktail with Martini Fiero, as well as mango and maple verjus.

Want to try fortified wines at home? Try crafting a sherry cobbler, but make it fall with cranberries and orange, the autumnal equivalent of a year-round cocktail circa the early-1800s.

Zero-proof mocktails move beyond the Shirley Temple

The embrace of Sober October means zero-proof alternatives or low-alcohol cocktails are not regulated to just the repentant trend of Dry January. Influencers like @mocktailgirlie have gained a sizable following by using zero-proof spirits to craft decadent mocktails, like her very on-trend pumpkin spice espresso martini, or the apple maple Dark & Stormy with a healthier twist due to zero-proof rum from Ritual.

The buzzy D.C. restaurant Mercy Me, founded by the same people behind the sorta-Jewish deli Call Your Mother, has a concise and compelling "low-to-no" cocktail menu featuring zero-proof daiquiris and bubbly, as well as low-proof cocktails incorporating the very of-the-moment fortified wines, bitters, and complex aromatics that ensure you won't leave a flavor experience behind with the booze. Another talked-about restaurant, founded by former "Top Chef" contestant Gregory Gourdet, features a prominent zero-proof menu at his newly opened Portland space, Kann. Gourdet tells Portland Monthly that he wants to "break away from how traditional cocktails are made, to keep it fun and interesting."

We've sang the praises of many of the alternative alcohol-free spirits and cocktail brands. For fall, we recommend trying a warming and herbaceous bottle of Smokey by Optimist Botanicals, which we find tastes more like gin than mezcal, or Ghia Apéritif for a hit of bitter and citrus. Plus, the Nigerian Chapman mocktail is reminiscent of a Shirley Temple, with or without the bitters. You can also add Vital Proteins lemon-flavored collagen for a health boost.

Aged tequila is delivering unexpected autumnal drinks

Tequila is the spirit of 2022, and this fall will be no different. BevAlc Insights says sales of tequila tend to go up in the early fall, with small-batch tequila producer Tequila Casa Dragones as one of the rising standouts this year. Experts suggest the proliferation and limited supply of bourbon have people shifting to the agave spirit, says Cheers Online. And we agree that the increased popularity of premium aged tequilas is perfect timing for cooler months due to the warmth, complexity, and rich flavors like caramel.

In fact, Mexico's first master tequilera Bertha González Nieves recently launched at first with Casa Dragones' Reposado Mizunara, which ages exclusively in Japanese mizunara oak casks traditionally used for aging Japanese whiskies. Granted, this rare reposado is likely best enjoyed with a single ice cube (by one of the best-sipping tequila brands out this year, no less), but that doesn't mean you can't get creative.

"For this fall season, we will be playful with Casa Dragones' barrel-aged expressions," Casamata beverage director Yana Volfson tells us. "With the Reposado Mizunara, I've designed a fanciful highball for our restaurant in L.A. called Damian, made with coconut water and a hoja santa leaf garnish. At COSME in NYC, we will be working on our seasonal batch of sugar pumpkin bitters for our Curva Pelligrosa made with Casa Dragones Añejo."

The bright citrus of yuzu returns to cocktail menus

Yuzu fruit is a bright citrus that is indigenous to Japan and common in desserts, savory dishes, the versatile shichimi togarashi seven-spice blend, and, of course, cocktails. The citrus looks a bit like a mandarin orange, tastes reminiscent of grapefruit, and is abundant in places like California from August to December. Although yuzu hasn't been hiding, bartenders are letting this ingredient shine on cocktail menus for fall.

We heard from the team at the newly opened Clever Coyote bar in Chicago, housed in the towering 1929 landmark building, that beverage director Mike Choi is featuring a Tokio Sour with Toki whiskey, yuzu, and egg white, as a play on the whiskey sour. Allegory in D.C. included yuzu as part of its whimsical "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired cocktail menu with the Looking-Glass, described as a vodka soda reimagined as a Japanese highball, mixing Champagne lime sherbert with vodka, pisco, chayote squash fino, and more.

Food & Wine Español hails Baltra bar in Mexico City's Colonia Condesa for its strong community of martini-loving patrons and a drink called Sumi, a combination of Tanqueray Ten gin, violet liqueur, yuzu, and jasmine syrup. The prolific Casamata beverage director, Yana Volfson, shared the herbaceous Sansei Highball made with mezcal, yuzu, and milky Japanese Calpico on her Instagram feed.

Make a yuzu cocktail at home simply with a Fever Tree Sparkling Lime and Yuzu mixer with your spirit of choice!

Negronis on tap mean a classic is easier than ever

Thankfully, Negronis never really go out of style. This fall season we're seeing the classic cocktail and aperitif reach spigot status thanks to South Boston's beloved Bar Volpe. Chef Karen Akunowicz shared with us in an exclusive interview how the bar developed a range of Negronis on tap with seven different pre-mixed cocktails at the ready. This means that guests are able to order a flight without gaining the ire of an overextended bartender.

"We always look at how we can make our cocktail menu seasonal," says Akunowicz. The chef revealed a white Negroni is in the works, and the tropical Negroni will likely get an update for the cooler months. "We have a black truffle sbogliato that will come on the menu, which is very fall and so delicious," she says.

In an unexpected twist, the Brooklyn Danish beer bar Troost also offers a Negroni and rye whiskey on tap for a quick after-dinner drink, as well as Negronis with happy hour specials at its sister property Sundown Bar. For Manhattan dwellers, Dante in the West Village also dispenses Negronis on demand (and, of course, developed a Toffee Apple Manhattan using fino sherry for autumn 2022).

Wine cocktails are the low-ABV drink your aunt was right to love

Summer might be over, but drinking in moderation doesn't seem to be going anywhere. The low-alcohol trend finds another outlet with wine cocktails, and more young people are embracing the low-ABV lifestyle (even more than your aunt when she had to babysit during your days as a rugrat). So yes, we are here to support the white wine spritzer and more. While refreshing wine cocktails might typically be embraced in the summer months, IWSR finds people are more interested in less sugar and less alcohol, leading bartenders to experiment with fresh concoctions to satisfy not-so-prurient interests.

Bar Agricole in San Francisco reopened with the Agricole Rhum Punch with Red Wine, best with a light-bodied red like Beaujulais if tried at home, says Punch. Wine cocktails for fall are also being embraced by a resort mixologist, who tells Forbes that a float of merlot warms up the Rum Sunset Cocktail at the beachside location.

You might want to drink your spritzer fröccs-style with a classic riesling from Hungary's wine country. Or, you can add Coca-Cola with a full-bodied red wine to make a Kalimotxo wine cocktail, popular in the Spanish Basque Country. A wine punch recipe with thyme is a seasonal take with a hint of savory notes.

Vegetables in cocktails have reached peak sophistication

Smoky, savory, and bitter are driving cocktail flavors for many of us this season. Sure, adding veggies was a trend for a hot minute in the aughts. Bloody Marys? A classic. Olives have long been invited to the martini party. Bartenders first embraced chili pepper for drinks back in 2015, according to IWSR, but today's flavors embody eleganza by adding texture and added complexity.

The vegetable martini hit in London this year, and we can't say that celery bitters and saline solution in the Salt & Pepper or a straight-up olive oil martini at Temple Bar in NYC haven't perked our interest. Handshake Bar was ahead of the trend with its butter mushroom old-fashioned, a stunning yet simple bourbon drink made with burnt butter, hinoki, and chanterelle mushrooms.

Casamata beverage director Yana Volfson crafted a tomato cocktail as an ode to Mexico with the Gazpaxo for COSME, using heirloom varietals and Casa Dragones blanco seasoned with onion, lime, and cucumber. The decadent complexity at Allegory showcases snap peas, cardamom, and black pepper coconut with both agricole rhum and gin in the earthy Garden of Flowers.

Mixologists don't have to be the only mixing savory ingredients this fall: Mix a funky and savory cocktail recipe with fish sauce and pickles straight out of 2015.

Variations of coffee cocktails join the espresso martini

We spoke with Lynnette Marrero, mixologist and consultant for premium spirits brands such as Zacapa Rum, about fall cocktail recipes. One drink's popularity has stood out, "The espresso martini is holding strong with many different recipes, including spirits other than vodka, such as mezcal and rum," says Marrero. We enjoy the warming Zacapa No. 23 served neat, which is delicious in part from aging in sherry and Pedro Ximénez barrels (coincidentally, very on trend this season). However, it makes a good choice for a coffee-infused cocktail thanks to tasting notes of butterscotch, caramel, and cacao.

Another rum-based coffee cocktail is Vintage Charm from Trinket in Melbourne Australia, using Kahlua and espresso with pomegranate and pineapple. For a caffeine jolt paired with cooling mint, the Hyatt Centric in Atlanta, Georgia, serves the No Rest for the Wicked cocktail on its 15th-floor Spaceman lounge: rum, coffee liquor, nitro cold brew, and creme de cacao.

Try your own coffee cocktail at home with an espresso martini or Irish coffee. Or, try a cold brew coffee cocktail with sake — a nod to the white Russian. Just watch out for the late-night jitters.

Premium Caribbean-inspired cocktails are re-emerging with Tiki culture

Caribbean cocktails might make you think of saccharine drinks. We do love a fruit-forward drink. But, mixologists are developing fall menus using heritage spirits, savory ingredients, and more respect for tradition. Wusong Road in Cambridge, Massachusetts, addresses how the Tiki culture was ingrained in American Chinese restaurants despite falling out of fashion. Chef Jason Doo explains on the restaurant website that 'tropical' drinks became standard, but no one questioned the origins or history. Wusong's Zombie cocktail includes house-made liquors, cinnamon cane syrup, and fresh fruit juices.

Allegory in D.C. developed the Crow from Tobago with rye and gin mixed with a laundry list of decadent ingredients, including Trinidadian curry, amontillado sherry, lacto-carrots (you read that right), and cacao. Allegory also makes an Old Fashioned made with chilis, eucalyptus, and Afro-Caribbean rum. Clever Coyote beverage director Mike Choi has curated cocktails and punches in Chicago with a nod to the bar's Tiki aesthetic.

The Domican spirit Mama Juana borders on a fortified wine: blended rum, red wine, and honey first concocted in the 1950s as a medicinal drink. Jalao, a new Caribbean restaurant in NYC, features a house-made mama juana with a brandied cherry and sweet vermouth. Mixologist Simone Bailey riffs as the bar manager at the Black-owned Caribbean restaurant Kokomo in Brooklyn with classics like the Pain Killer and signature drinks, such as Koko Spritz made with Good Guice coconut rum, tequila, lemon, and sparkling wine. Embrace the island state of mind.

'90s cocktails are trending on bar menus

Along with the espresso martini, choker necklaces, and a strategic two pieces of hair falling from a tight ponytail onto young people's faces (don't get us started...), the '90s are back. Reimagined '90s cocktails and general nostalgia for the decade are influencing drink menus. We spoke with Lynnette Marrero, mixologist and consultant for premium spirits brands such as Zacapa Rum, who says, "As far as trends we're seeing this fall, there has been obvious growth in the premium rum category and the continued trend of 90's cocktails reinvented."

Sure, people are googling what a Zima hangover is, but they're also leveling up this time around. Researchers at IWSR find the non-traditional premium category is seeing gains thanks to pandemic savings boosts in the U.S. and the continued awareness of high-quality ingredients from bars and restaurants.

Fun '90s cocktails are gracing menus and enticing a new generation of young people: gin and tonic, lemon drops, appletinis, cosmopolitans, and, okay, basically martinis every which way. Nostalgia is a running theme for fall menus with Allegory in D.C. making the Eden reminiscent of an orange soda and its signature take on a Ramos Gin Fizz. Market Watch even calls out Midori as a cocktail ingredient or blue Curaçao-based drinks, but we're guessing Gen X parents won't let the same hurt happen to their children this time around.

Warming digestifs are finally gaining recognition

The Aperol spritz might have gotten all the summer attention as an aperitif or before-dinner drink, but after-dinner liqueurs such as the amaretto or amaro are making an appearance in cocktails for fall. Liqueurs like amaretto are versatile and warming for low-ABV drinks made with cider or cranberry, as well as more heavy hitters like scotch or cognac for a French Connection.

We reached out to the team at the newly opened AperiBar in Manhattan, which is focused on Italian specialties and late-night cocktails and is part of the Charlie Palmer restaurant group. The highly awarded namesake chef is a powerhouse in the industry, who appears to appreciate the classics just as much as we do. "As the weather gets colder, especially in the New York area, I always default to brown liquor-based drinks classics, such as an Old Fashioned or drinks focused on Italian Amaros," says Palmer.

An Italian amaro makes its way to the Barely Disfigured Bar in Carroll Gardens: Little Death features St. Agrestis melded with bourbon, vermouth, and angostura bitters. On the opposite coast, Kona's Street Market Bar in San Francisco debuted an amaretto, bergamot, and Fig Newton cookie cocktail.

The after-drink drink might not have the star power of the aperitifs, but it has dedicated fans. "I keep waiting and waiting for eau de vie to take off every year," says Matthew Belanger, general manager at Death & Co. Los Angeles. Justice for the after-dinner cocktail!