4 Pumpkin Cocktails For The Halloween Season

When the air starts to cool and the leaves on the trees begin shifting to shades of gold, red, and orange children across the U.S. begin to anticipate one special night — Halloween. The associated promises of trick-or-treat bags (or pillowcases) stuffed with mini chocolate bars, Tootsie Rolls, and peanut butter cups; spooky stories shared with friends; and costume parties often fill kids with the holiday spirit before October even hits. As adults, we, too, have been known to indulge in some Halloween candy when the holiday draws near, but what we really look forward to each Halloween season is sipping on autumnal, pumpkin-flavored cocktails.

Although they might not be the first flavoring you think of when you reach for your cocktail shaker, both pumpkin and its dear cousin, pumpkin spice, can be wonderful additions to adult beverages, lending the drinks a warmth and depth that's more than welcome on a chilly fall night. From a pumpkin-butter-and-bourbon Headless Horseman to a pumpkin spice Mai Tai, these are the four cocktails we'll be sipping this fall.

The Headless Horseman

If you've never been lucky enough to come across pumpkin butter, Allrecipes explains it's basically cooked-down, thickened pumpkin purée flavored with fall spices. (A very different recipe from pumpkin spice compound butter, which probably wouldn't lend itself quite so well to cocktails.) The sweet condiment is typically spread across toast or folded into desserts, but in the instance of this fall cocktail, pumpkin butter is shaken with foamy egg white, bourbon, lemon juice, and Triple Sec. Served in a martini glass, the result is a frothy, orange-toned drink that's elegant, comforting, and perfect for an autumn evening.

Dubbed the Headless Horseman, we recommend pairing it with your favorite ghost story or urban legend in honor of Ichabod.

Recipe: The Headless Horseman

Pumpkin Spice Mai Tai

If you've ever spent an evening at a tiki bar, then you're probably familiar with the Mai Tai, a classic tiki drink containing rum, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup, and fresh lime juice (via Liquor.com). A refreshing, fruity drink that's often garnished with fresh pineapple or jarred cherries, this fall-inspired, absinthe-spiked Mai Tai instead takes its flavors from pumpkin spice: In this case a blend of dried cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, star anise, and a bit of numbing Sichuan pepper.

Served over crushed ice with fresh mint, our Pumpkin Spice Mai Tai is the perfect sipper for an autumn evening.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Mai Tai

Gingered Pumpkin And Rum Cocktail

Pumpkin butter makes another appearance in this smooth, rum-based cocktail developed for Tasting Table by New York mixologist Johnny Swet. The sweet condiment is shaken with muddled ginger, cinnamon simple syrup, aged rum, orange juice, lime juice, and Angostura bitters. Served over ice in a rocks glass, the drink is then garnished with grated nutmeg and an orange twist for a drink that's flavors are sweet, spiced, and refreshingly bright.

Sure to be a hit with fans of pumpkin pie, we see this drink seamlessly transitioning from your Halloween party to the Thanksgiving table.

Recipe: Gingered Pumpkin And Rum Cocktail

Pumpkin Spice Liqueur

Popularized in 2003 with the advent of Starbucks' famous seasonal pumpkin spice latte (via Starbucks), pumpkin spice is tasty at all times of year, but especially craveable in the fall, when you just might want to infuse it into this easy-to-make liqueur. Simply toast cloves, allspice, white pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg lightly in a skillet, then add the autumnal spice mix to vodka along with some fresh ginger. After steeping for two days, the spices are strained from the liquor and infused into simple syrup, which is then strained again and combined with the vodka to give it some sweetness and an extra boost of flavor.

The resulting liqueur is wonderful served on the rocks, mixed into cocktails, or slipped into a cup of hot coffee or cider to be enjoyed while handing out candy or carousing around the neighborhood with your little monsters.

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Liqueur