Written by Guy Cooper, Managing Director at Mitchell & Cooper
Throughout the long hot summer, many of your customers will no doubt have enjoyed a variety of cocktails, from delicious frozen margaritas to minty mojitos. But there’s no need for the fun to end now autumn has arrived, as cocktails are the perfect year-round tipple.
The great thing about these drinks is that no matter the time of year, there are sure to be delicious ingredients you can use to make a fantastic seasonal treat. And autumn is a particularly great season as there are so many tasty flavours to choose from. To give you some inspiration and help you impress your customers, bar equipment retailer Mitchell & Cooper are here to share five of the best ways to elevate your autumnal cocktail menu.
Use autumnal spices
When we think of autumn, many of our minds are drawn to the taste of delicious seasonal spices. You’ll often find them in seasonal sweet treats like cakes and biscuits, as well as in autumnal hot drinks like the classic pumpkin spice latte. Fortunately many of these flavours work well in cocktails too, so you shouldn’t find it difficult to include seasonal flavours in your refreshed menu. A few of the key ingredients you can look out for are:
Cinnamon: This flavour pairs perfectly with apple and will work great with a variety of spirits, especially whisky.
Nutmeg: If you’re looking for an addition to a creamy autumnal cocktail, nutmeg is the perfect addition. Try using it in a recipe with an Irish cream liqueur.
Ginger: Looking for something with a kick? Use this seasonal spice to make a variety of drinks, including a ginger martini and the classic Moscow mule.
Pumpkin spice: Why keep this delicious spice designated to just the coffee menu? Use it to add an autumnal twist to a variety of drinks, such as an old fashioned. You can make your own pumpkin spice with simply the three ingredients above, with the addition of cloves.
Pick local seasonal fruit
Fruit is a key component of many cocktails so you’ll no doubt be looking for seasonal options to add to your new menu. There are so many benefits to choosing fruit in season: it’s more eco-friendly as it won’t have far to travel, it’s usually the cheaper option, and the produce tends to be much fresher. And as there are so many delicious options at this time of year, there really is no down side.
Apples are readily available in the autumn months and the sweet, crisp flavour they provide makes them an ideal addition to cocktails. They pair well with autumnal spices, and can be used in a variety of drinks, including in martinis, cider-based cocktails, and with gin and fizz to create an English garden inspired drink. If you’re looking to double up on fruit to pack the drink with even more fresh flavours, apples work well with pears, which are another autumnal fruit. Blackberries are also available in abundance at this time of year and can be used in a variety of drinks, like with a berry spritz and in the classic blackberry bramble cocktail.
Add some warmth
Once the weather starts to cool down, customers will no doubt be searching for warming foods and drinks on chilly autumnal nights. While most of the cocktails we enjoy are cool and refreshing, there are plenty of hot alternatives to add to your menu this season to warm up your guests. If you’re looking for a classic, make sure to add the iconic hot toddy to your menu: as well as being hot, the whisky gives this drink a bit of a kick.
For a creamy and comforting drink, you can include some boozy coffees and hot chocolates. These are great as drinks on their own, or even as dessert alternatives if you serve food. You can use a selection of autumnal spices here too, by making an Irish pumpkin spiced latte or a spiked cinnamon hot chocolate with whisky.
Another great addition to your menu is a tea-infused cocktail. These are all the rage at the minute thanks to TikTok —the #teacocktail tag currently has 1.4 million views. You can use flavoured tea to add warmth to a variety of cocktails, such as by using ginger tea in your hot toddy or pairing an Earl Grey tea with a bourbon-based cocktail.
Spice it up
Cocktails which pack a punch are a favourite of many consumers at the minute. The particularly popular jalapeno rose trend has a staggering 130.2 million views on TikTok, so adding a spicy cocktail or two is a sure-fire way to elevate your autumnal drinks menu. The jalapeno rose trend simply involves adding slices of the spicy pepper to a glass of crisp rose, but there are plenty of other cocktail recipes you can incorporate spice into.
One good way to spice up sweet drink recipes is by using a chilli-infused simple syrup. This is a great addition to a number of drinks, such as the margarita and the old fashioned. Chilli pairs perfectly with dark chocolate, so try adding these two distinctive ingredients to a martini for twist on a classic. You can also use spice as a garnish, by mixing chilli powder with salt to add to the rim of a glass, or adding a few slices of jalapenos to the drink like in the jalapeno rose trend.
Create perfect pairings
Crafting the perfect autumnal cocktail menu is a great way to enjoy the season. But to enjoy autumn to the fullest, make sure to add a few seasonal specials to your food menu too. As well as being delicious in themselves, you can use flavours in these seasonal dishes to pair with your cocktails. For example, a seasonal cheese board will work fantastically with an apple-based drink, and tacos using autumn vegetables like potato and cauliflower is a great pairing for spicy cocktails.
Even if you don’t provide full meals in your business , this doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a few autumnal bar snacks. Small treats like smoked paprika roasted almonds, apple crisps, and toffee apple popcorn are delicious, and have seasonal flavours which are sure to complement you autumnal drinks menu.
“Autumn is easily one of the best seasons for flavour. Not only are there some great sweet spices to use, like cinnamon and nutmeg, but you should be able to find some tasty seasonal fresh fruit nearby for a reasonable price, like apples and blackberries. These are all fantastic flavours for cocktails, so you have plenty of choice for planning your new seasonal menu. You can use them to add twists to classics, like cosmos and margaritas, and even encourage your bartenders to experiment and come up with something completely new.
“Whenever you do a temporary menu refresh, it’s always worth looking into some of the hottest trends in food and drink. Tea-infused cocktails and spicy alcoholic drinks are particularly popular at the minute and they both work perfectly with the upcoming colder weather, so you may want to use them to your advantage.“