As the leaves start to change and the temperature drops (admittedly later than it ought to), I always find my preference for beverages turns towards aged spirits and heavier, more robust flavor combinations. There is something very comfortable about a richly-flavored (often spirit-forward) libation at this time of year, when everything slows down just a little bit.
The palette of ingredients that comes to mind is wide and varied, featuring many of the items with which I so love to play. Well-aged Brandies, Rums, Whiskies and Tequilas form a sturdy backbone of flavors. Fortified wines like Sherry or Madeira, bitter Amaro, herbal distillates such as Suze or Chartreuse, fragrant Vermouth and Chinato can delicately (or forcefully) bring exciting elements of taste.
Seasonal produce - Apples, Figs, Pumpkin or Pears - make for toothsome delights, particularly when combined with aromatic spices like Allspice, Cinnamon and Ginger. Base sweeteners change too - now is the time for full-bodied Honeys and complex Sugars; wonderful when balanced with souring agents like fresh Verjus or housemade Shrub.
I considered these feelings (and the many ingredients that inspire them) extensively when selecting and designing the drinks that would appear on our new Fall Cocktail menu at Catherine Lombardi. Here's one of my favorite creations; dark and rich, with an earthy undertone of coffee-like aromas. Served over a large-bore ice ball, it's the perfect thing to slowly savor as the sun sets on summer...
Rare Earth½ oz. Rhum JM Elevé Sous Bois
½ oz. Ron Zacapa 23yr Rum
¾ oz. Amaro Averna
¾ oz. Pedro-Ximenez Sherry
½ oz. Verjus
2 d. TBT Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice & stir. Strain to a Rocks glass over a large-format ice cube or sphere.
Whether you mix one up at home or swing through the bar for a round or three, be sure to let me know how you like it (or any of the other delightful concoctions on-offer)!