After the Apple

The fall harvest in your glass

Apples, the totem of fall, are a cherished choice behind the bar.

Whether in distilled form–brandy, cider and pommeau–or freshly juiced, the fruit is a straightforward way to give an autumnal tinge to a cocktail.

But it's hardly the only way. We're toasting the season with cocktails that hinge on other, more unexpected flavors. A few drinks to get your creative juices flowing:

Butternut squash: At Rye, the popular restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, rum is mixed with milk, ginger, dry curaçao, bitters and a spice-soaked syrup of butternut squash in the cheekily named Build Me Up Butternut (see the recipe).

Pear: Instead of using a pear eau de vie or flavored vodka, the bartenders at Picca in Los Angeles infuse fresh pear in vermouth. Subtle and floral, it provides an intriguing lift to the Deconstructing Hector, which also has tequila, lime and grapefruit liqueur. 

Concord Grape: These highly flavorful indigo grapes can be overly sweet when used in cocktails. But Tona Palomino, beverage director at Trenchermen in Chicago, balances their natural sugar with absinthe and gin in his seasonal cocktail Divide and Concord.

Fig: One of the most popular cocktails at Peché in Austin is a variation on the classic Manhattan. Rye, vermouth and bitters are topped with a foam made from fig syrup and egg whites.