Fall Cocktails

It’s mid-October and fall is officially here. As the sun starts to set earlier, the heat of Friday night lights signal the end of 90 degree days and the beginning of beautiful 80 degree days and 60 degree nights. Soon, piles of leaves will line the streets like snowdrifts; thus, the exciting task of re-imagining a seasonal cocktail menu is hastily approaching. Autumn is bellying up to the bar.


At the moment, I’m putting the finishing touches on the fall cocktail menu at Hock Farm – a menu that will likely run intact from mid-October through December – with small changes occurring along the way as short-season fruits and vegetables ripen and run their course. During summer we ran a very popular margarita, Margarita de Verano (aka Summer Margarita). This margarita variation featured a house-made watermelon cordial paired with the bright bitterness of an Italian liqueur called Aperol. For the fall menu’s Margarita de Otono (aka Autumn Margarita), we will use the same base recipe with pomegranates, lending the signature pink hue, and St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram celebrating the arrival of fall, garnished with fresh mint and a dusting of ground black pepper.


Now as nice as it is to use fresh seasonal ingredients in the whole form (and I highly recommend this method as the flavors of fruit in the peak of their seasons are incomparable), there are many time tested methods of preserving the flavors of yester-season for utilization in cocktails such as jams, marmalades, pickles, shrubs, cordials, liqueurs, tinctures, and/or bitters. During summer we were so delighted with our Improved Lavender Sidecar, it was a task to dream up an equally inspiring tipple for fall. Fortunately a company in Sonoma is crafting a small batch “figcello.” Figs are a late summer through early fall fruit, and by immortalizing the rich fig flavor in a liqueur, we can enjoy it year-round. We will pair the “figcello” with a California brandy, fresh lemon juice, and cinnamon-infused maraschino liqueur, with a cinnamon-sugar rim as a finishing touch.
The weather at the moment does not immediately desire the warmth of a hot toddy or hot buttered rum, although that time quickly approaches. Maybe by the next time we meet, the team at Hock Farm will have some inspired ideas and we shall discuss that delicious category. Until then – drink enthusiastically!