We can all agree that pumpkin spice lattes have had more than their fair share of the fall spotlight. It’s time for coffee to move over and make room for a much better pumpkin pairing—booze. And it’s not just pumpkin old-fashioneds or Manhattans like you might expect. While rich, dark spirits like aged rum and whiskey are predictably terrific mixed with sweet pumpkin and traditional fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, bartenders are finding ways to include aromatic spirits like gin and vodka in seasonal, pumpkin-y drinks.
Here, five pumpkin spice cocktails from across the country for pumpkin spice enthusiasts as well as those who couldn’t care less about pumpkin but just want a cozy, autumnal drink.
Park Avenue Autumn; New York City
The Mai Chai is a fall take on a classic tiki cocktail. Bartenders shake chai-infused rum with house-made toasted pumpkin seed orgeat, lime juice and pumpkin butter. It’s served in a frozen, hollowed out Delicata squash instead of the tiki-typical pineapple.
15 Romolo; San Francisco
Bartender Ian Adams puts his Vitamix to work making spiced pumpkin compote for his Bourbon & Pumpkin cocktail. The compote includes roasted sugar pumpkin, cane and brown sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, vanilla bean, nutmeg and cream sherry. To make the cocktail, Adams shakes the puree with bourbon, Amer Picon (an orange-tinged, bittersweet French aperitif), lemon juice, Angostura bitters and coffee tincture (perfect for the pumpkin spice latte addict).
Jack Rose; Washington, DC
Named for the hero of Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Jack Skellington is made with vodka, Pumpkin King Cordial, apple bitters, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter bitters. It’s served over ice in a rocks glass, garnished with a dried apple chip.
Pouring Ribbons; New York City
Like Park Avenue Autumn, Pouring Ribbons is also serving a tiki-inspired pumpkin cocktail. The Labu Kelapa is made with spice–spiked pumpkin puree kicked up with Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, clove and cinnamon, coconut cream, fresh lemon and orange juice, Batavia-Arrack (an earthy, musky rum made with red rice) and Fords gin. The vibrant, yellow-orange cocktail is served in a tall glass topped with freshly grated nutmeg and toasted coconut flakes.
Estadio; Washington, DC
Bar director Adam Bernbach was inspired to make the Pumpkin Slushito, a grown-up fall slushie, after tasting a stout from Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes made with smoked malt and Lapsang souchong tea. He infuses Scotch with black tea to replicate the beer’s flavor, then mixes it with house-made pumpkin puree, lemon juice and lager. The frosty drink is garnished with a lemon wheel and a sprinkling of pimentón.