Ever since cinnamon first made its way out of Southeast Asia, centuries ago, the crinkly, curly bark has proven itself to be essential ingredient in countless dishes. But it’s also an important player in the bartending world. It adds spice to exotic concoctions, warmth to autumnal classics and all around depth to any drink it touches. Here, the best cinnamon-spiced cocktails.
11 Best Cinnamon-Spiced Drinks
For many, there’s only one cinnamon-spiced spirit: Fireball. The candy-like liqueur is fairly mellow on the spice, making it an easy shooter at college bars. But if you’re seeking something with a spicier kick, try this artisanal version from Trick Dog in San Francisco, which combines bourbon and cinnamon syrup with the intensely herbal Czech liqueur, Becherovka.
New York tiki guru Brian Miller uses bitter Jägermeister in this updated Polynesian cocktail, along with Don’s Mix #4, which is code for cinnamon syrup—a relic from tiki’s clandestine days of old. The cinnamon gives this cocktail its exotic name and, along with Mix #2 (vanilla syrup and allspice dram), the drink’s distinctive throwback tiki flavor.
Cana Brava rum
Pumpkin spice would be nothing without cinnamon. Our version of the PSL provides plenty of that key component, from the critical pumpkin spice syrup to the garnish of cinnamon sticks to the cinnamon dusted whipped cream topping. Pumpkin spice may be king, but cinnamon is the king-maker.
Pumpkin Spice Syrup
The yang to the PSL’s yin, the gingerbread latté is the runner-up for official fall latté, but there’s room for both spiked versions in our bar. Ginger-cinnamon whipped cream covers a heaping cup of hot Cognac-spiked latté, sweetened with a cinnamon-spiced gingerbread syrup.
Bourbon may seem like an odd base for a tiki drink, but when it meets tiki staples like orgeat, allspice and cinnamon, it all makes sense. As any warm autumnal punch can tell you, bourbon and cinnamon are already a great pair, but taking the duo into tropical waters proves equally satisfying.
Cinnamon is key to many Mexican drinks, from the sweet coffee known as cafe de olla to the holiday-spiced rompope to spiced hot chocolate. It’s also important for a classic Oaxacan mole negro. Often served with pumpkin, that rich dish was the inspiration for this pumpkin Margarita made with cinnamon syrup, buttery pumpkin and smoky mezcal.
Garnishing with full cinnamon sticks is a quick way to add a bit of flavor and decoration to any drink. But for some serious cinnamon flavor (and even more visual pizzazz), light those sticks on fire. A quick soak in 151 rum allows them to light with ease, then all you have to do is drop them in the punch bowl for a striking, aromatic presentation.
Sparkling Apple Cider
In this homage to tiki hero Donn Beach, Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove employs one of the legendary bartender’s favorite flavor pairings: cinnamon and grapefruit. Cate took that combination and applied it to a shandy using grapefruit beer and cinnamon syrup, tiki-fied with rhum agricole blanc.
Rhum Agricole Blanc
Some 19th century recipes are worth revisiting. Others are worth revising. This punch from the esteemed Jerry Thomas originally called for maidenhair fern, but subbing that difficult-to-find ingredient for orange-cinnamon syrup creates a wonderfully bitter, dry and spiced bowl punch—no obscure herbs required.
Cognac or Brandy
Cinnamon takes quite a trip to arrive in the complexly layered Pearl Diver. First, it’s infused into cinnamon syrup. The syrup is then creamed with butter, sugar, vanilla and allspice to create Don’s Gardenia Mix. Finally, that mix gets dumped into a blender with three kinds of rum and several types of citrus. It’s an involved process—and absolutely worth the spicy, buttery final product.
Don’s Gardenia Mix
Fresh Orange Juice
New Orleans may love their classic Sazerac, but this tiki-fied version will give even the staunchest traditionalist pause. Bright red hibiscus absinthe takes particularly well to the cinnamon-forward Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum. We could definitely imagine this served in the tiki lineup at Latitude 29 in the French Quarter.
Bittercube Trinity Bitters