There are lots of ways to reinvent a classic cocktail, whether you freeze it, turn it into jello or remove the booze altogether. But perhaps our favorite way to tinker with a tried-and-true recipe is to whip it into something seasonal. So, to celebrate fall, we looked to the bright orange pumpkin for inspiration. Whether you’re in the mood for a tart Daiquiri or love the stirred, boozy comfort of an Old Fashioned, these four pumpkin-y twists on classic cocktails will get you in the mood for leaf peeping and bonfires.
4 Delicious Ways to Pumpkin-fy Classic Cocktails
The elegant Old Fashioned is always a perfect cocktail to sip during happy hour, especially if you prefer your first drink of the evening to be a stiff one. But there’s nothing wrong with adding a fun twist to a serious libation, especially if it incorporates a lively seasonal ingredient. This variation from Arley Marks of New York’s Dimes not only calls for an easy-to-make pumpkin syrup, but Marks also serves the drink in a hollowed-out mini pumpkin. Serve it to kick off a dinner party or a fall weekend getaway—or overshadow the roast turkey at Thanksgiving. If you don’t have the time or patience to carve a pumpkin into a glass, a lowball will do just fine.
It’s hard to think of anything other than a mix of gin and vermouth as a Martini, but we’re willing to let the definition slide when the rendition is this good. For his twist on the classic drink, Fitsum Kebede of The Carolina Inn uses a creamy mix of aged rum, pumpkin puree and warming spices. ”Mount Gay Rum is well balanced with a hint of spice and a sweet finish, so it’s perfect for this cocktail,” he says. “The vanilla extract and bitters maintain the sweet spice, and a kick from fresh lemon juice gives the drink a round feeling.” It’s the perfect dessert for a fall dinner party and will keep you toasty (and maybe a little toasted) as you pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Syrup
Mia Mastroianni, bar manager at Soho House West Hollywood and star of Bar Rescue, was inspired by the Pumpkin Spice Latte when she created this fall twist on the Negroni. When the two cult classics come together, you have yourself a funky masterpiece. “By substituting the Negroni’s traditional sweet vermouth with Frangelico and adding some pumpkin puree, I think this cocktail screams ‘autumn,’” she says. “I felt it was important to use an egg white for texture, which is a nod to latte foam.” If you want to get extra festive with this drink, serve it in a hollowed-out mini pumpkin.
Pumpkin Spice Syrup
New Orleans holds a wealth of drinking inspiration, whether you look to its open container policy or award-winning bar programs. And while the city doesn’t experience too much variance when it comes to the seasons, the bars around town do their part with a slew of innovative cocktails to make it feel like it’s not 85 degrees outside come October. “Fall always makes me think of pumpkins, and New Orleans is a Daiquiri town,” says Bennie Johnson, bartender at Public Belt at Hilton New Orleans Riverside. His autumnal take on the classic includes plenty of sweet and spicy spirits, along with a nice helping of pumpkin purée for good measure. “I think the bite from the Gosling’s plays very well with the rich sweetness from the purée and the liqueurs,” he adds. “It’s fragrant and festive enough to serve all fall.”