Move Toward Gourd

Pumpkin cocktails that don't scare us

Pumpkins get plenty of face time in our fall food repertoire, but ask for a pumpkin-based beverage at a bar and you're bound to be served a drink flavored with a syrupy stand-in.

Until recently. Bartenders have begun approaching the autumnal mascot with newfound care, ditching the syrups for proprietary liqueurs and sodas–or using the raw ingredient itself.

In San Francisco, the Starlight Room's Prize Pumpkin seizes its namesake vegetable's flavor from two angles: pumpkin ale and pumpkin liqueur made in-house. For this seasonal fizz, the liqueur is mixed with bourbon, an egg yolk and honey. Topped with the ale, it is a heady textural balance, both smooth and bubbly.

The new Washington, D.C., restaurant Graffiato offers an effervescent libation called the Smashing Pumpkin (pictured). In the tart and fragrant combination, rum and allspice dram meet a soda made of pumpkin purée and lemon juice.

Nashville's Holland House steeps pumpkin meat in Cocchi Americano, and then uses the infused liqueur in the Autumn Manhattan, with rye and Angostura bitters.

And at Peels in New York, pumpkin-flavored bitters add a touch of sweet earthiness to the Ichabod's Old-Fashioned, made with bourbon, rum and maple syrup. For your home bar, try our easy recipe for a pumpkin-flecked Champagne cocktail (click here to see the recipe).

Bar, meet pumpkin patch.