Fall has become predictable. September rolls around, and everyone instinctively picks up a pumpkin spice latte and stocks up on bourbon. There’s a pot of mulled cider on every stove and a stash of smoky scotch in every cabinet. It’s comfortable—but it’s boring. Luckily, there are a few ingenious bartenders out there who have managed to turn the trends on their cornucopia-covered heads.
At Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine, manager Ryan Smith takes a cautious approach when it comes to embracing fall. She doesn’t run head first into bourbon, (“I think that’s more fall-into-winter,” she says) but instead eases away from summer. It’s Maine, after all, and once that first frost hits, the locals are in for a long stretch of chilly nights. “You want to keep summer in the back of your mind because it goes so fast,” she says. She likes to base her drinks on spirits with just a hint of spice, like rum, which still carries with it tropical island memories, or reposado tequila, which blends seamlessly with baking spices like clove and cinnamon. Also on the menu, a sherry-based spritz, which marries the nutty notes of fino sherry with the effervescent spritz of Cava. Her hard rule: “Definitely stay away from Hot Toddies.” At least until December.