This article was updated in August 2023 to include more of our favorite fall cocktails.
It’s fall, y’all, and while sipping apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes are a given, finding the perfect fall cocktail recipe isn’t so easy. After a season of spritzes and rosé wine, we’re craving cocktails that are equal parts refreshing and cozy. From an apple cider margarita to a mulled wine sparkler, we rounded up our best fall cocktails (and a couple of mocktails too!).
Is that a hint of orange? A tinge of yellow? As soon as the leaves start to change, grab your favorite rye whiskey, a gallon of apple cider (locally made, if possible!), and a couple of other easy aromatic ingredients to prepare the ultimate fall cocktail.
Normally margaritas make me think of booze cruises at sunset and trips to the tropics, two things that aren’t my typical fall activities in New England. But this recipe gets an autumnal spin thanks to the inclusion of apple cider and cinnamon.
3. Autumn Ash
If you’re not too keen on Scotch whiskey, this cocktail might make you change your mind. St. Germain elderflower liqueur infuses the robust liquor with floral notes and apple brandy brings all-American sweetness.
I could go on and on about how perfect this autumnal punch is for your next fall harvest festival, but really, who hosts those? No one, right? So let’s just say that you’re hosting some friends and it happens to be fall and you’re looking for a cocktail to make? This crowd-friendly punch is it.
Some fall days are warm and beautiful. Others can be, frankly, quite frigid. When the temperature drops below 50, sip a mug of this hearty hot chocolate, which is our new favorite fall cocktail.
It’s a classic year-round, but somehow an Old Fashioned just tastes better as a fall cocktail.
Homemade cinnamon pomegranate syrup and a squeeze of citrus juice dress up Kentucky bourbon for one of our favorite fall cocktails.
When you picture the base for a fall cocktail, whiskey and bourbon probably come to mind first, right? But don’t underestimate the power of gin! “This one is one of my favorites, combining muddled figs with a hit of maple syrup, tart lime, and spicy ginger beer, all circling around the complex flavors of gin,” writes recipe developer fiveandspice.
Serve this festive fall cocktail for Thanksgiving dinner. The combination of red wine and prosecco mixed with mulling spices will appeal to both white and red wine drinkers and pairs well with almost every dish at the feast.
11. The Tom Cat
“This cocktail recipe, inspired by a nineteenth-century British gin recipe, is an updated version of the original Old Tom gin cocktail, with the addition of mezcal from Mexico for smokiness, vermouth for sweetness, and bitters for complexity,” writes recipe developer Jody Eddy.
12. Winter Spritz
You only need four ingredients—Campari, blood orange juice, apple cider, and oranges—to make this cold weather spritz. Sure, it has winter in the name but we promise it’s just as good during autumn.
Food52’s resident bartender Elliott Clark calls this bourbon-based cocktail the perfect one to celebrate fall just as the leaves start to turn. Our homemade plum-honey syrup adds a touch of sweetness with one of the season’s best fruits.
A French 75 is a pretty perfect cocktail, but it doesn’t exactly scream fall. So we mixed champagne with cognac, blood orange juice, and a vanilla-berry syrup for a seasonally appropriate sip.
15. Hot Toddy
This classic warming lemony, whiskey-based cocktail will give you all the fuzzy fall feels.
Fresh ginger, candied ginger, and pear juice usher in our favorite fall flavors for this mezcal margarita.
Looking for a nonalcoholic cocktail recipe for fall? Leave it to Julia Bainbridge to come up with a totally wacky combination of Coca-Cola, maple syrup, and soy sauce that somehow works brilliantly.
“This margarita hits all of the warm baking spice notes you’d find in pecan pie, thanks to a homemade tea and pecan orgeat (a sweet syrup typically made with almonds and orange flower water),” writes recipe developer A-K Hada.
If it’s got apple in the name and it’s after October 1st, then I’ll take a double, please and thank you. This fall cocktail is made with our homemade Apple Peel Bourbon, plus triple sec and two varieties of bitters.
Okay, this isn’t exactly a cocktail. It’s a recipe for drinking vinegar, in which fruit (in this case, apples) are steeped in a combination of vinegar and sugar for a few days. From here, you can drink it as is for a refreshingly not-sweet non-alcoholic cocktail or mix it with liquor for a fall beverage.
A hot toddy is undeniably the perfect cold-weather beverage. Instead of just a lemon wedge floating in the cocktail, we added both Meyer lemon and blood orange juices to the bourbon-honey blend for a better-than-ever fruity flavor.
Instead of Campari (a Boulevardier’s traditional bittering agent), John deBary opts for sesame-infused Averna—a Sicilian bitter liqueur—that adds a toasted warmth to this classic bourbon cocktail. Bonus: You can batch it days in advance.
“This loose interpretation of an old fashioned came out of an improvisation when I ran out of maraschino cherries, but it definitely holds its own against the original,” writes recipe developer and community member Julie. “The flavors are especially suited to fall and winter, but I enjoy them year-round!”
Light, bright, bitter, and easy to throw together—this beer cocktail is the perfect accompaniment for a football Sunday.
Smoky mezcal and bitter amaro team up to create a drink that’s decidedly earthy, warming, and yet—somehow—refreshing. The best part? Like the boulevardier, you can batch all the ingredients (besides the ginger beer) hours before your guests arrive.
If you’ve got a day of fall-themed activities ahead of you (e.g. evaluating the artistic potential of a pumpkin), you deserve to start your day with something delicious. Enter, the cold brew negroni—the bitter, balanced, and caffeinated cocktail you’ve always wanted.
“This is the cider you want mulling in a corner of the kitchen all day long during colder months—ideally in a slow-cooker,” writes our editors. “You can dip in for a mug whenever a new visitor comes in from the chill, and the sweet perfume will beckon them to the kitchen.”
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