The google calendar page has flipped, and we’ve stumbled, sunburnt and sandy, into the start of fall. It’s time to pick the Mojito mint from your muddler sticks, and dump out the last drops of your sangria. Now, you can start stirring in your favorite fall cocktail flavors. If you want to make your at-home bar more exciting and versatile, then here are some tips on how to use new liqueurs and ingredients that will turn classic cocktails into impressive feats of cocktail wizardry.
If your local liquor store has a decent spirits and mixer selection, then you should be able to find these ingredients there.
This Jamaican-made liqueur is a powerful dram of clove and cinnamon spice. Mix in a .25 ounce or so to a cocktail, and you should find a nice balance between your base spirit and the rest of your flavors. Try adding it to an old-fashioned, and watch the clove and cinnamon blend with the orange and bourbon to become a rich and fragrant addendum to the classic cocktail.
Once, while I was tending bar, a customer asked me to make him a beer cocktail. I chose Lindemans Framboise as the beer. The fruited sour beer is delicious on its own, but it’s also a great option for mixing into a cocktail. I went the route of a Manhattan, with the lambic taking the place of the vermouth. I used the traditional bitters, and added some Koval Ginger liqueur. If Koval isn’t in your market, Domaine de Canton will work just fine as a substitute. The sweet fruit finish ,along with the acidity of the framboise, will balance a cocktail on its own.
3. Apple Brandy
Apple brandy is an unfortunately underused and overlooked spirit. Though, the cocktail revival has brought on a slight resurgence of the spirit, it hasn’t taken off like rye whiskey or Italian Amaro’s. Laird’s Apple Brandy is the original apple brandy in America, and you can usually find Calvados, french apple brandy from the Calvados region of Normandy, on the shelves of any respectable cocktail bar.
If you like to stay local with your spirit choices, there are craft distillers who are starting to produce apple brandy. You can probably find one locally distilled that will use locally sourced produce. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, Rhine Hall makes a wonderful apple brandy.
I enjoy making a Pisco Sour, a traditional peruvian cocktail and swapping out the pisco for the apple brandy. For a true Pisco Sour, try and find Armago Chuncho bitters, which are a requirement for an authentic Pisco Sour (though you can a make delicious one without the bitters), and also work well in an Apple Brandy Sour. Apple brandy is a pretty versatile ingredient because many cocktails, especially cocktails with bourbon as a base, originally used brandy as a base spirit. Try using it in a punch at your next family holiday.