The leaves have fallen, and the season of margaritas and Tom Collinses and anything with tonic water is now hibernating until spring brings its thaw. Now? Now is the time for settling into the season of warmth and spices. And, most importantly…whiskey. Real whiskey lovers, whether bourbon, scotch, rye, or a blended, will always tell you the best way to truly appreciate a whiskey is in a glass: neat, and with just a tiny drop of water. You can find our guide for that approach here.
But, there’s also plenty of fun ways to combine solid but less expensive whiskeys with other fall-ish flavors to truly embrace the season. Aromatic bitters, winter citrus, spices, and even heat can all play with the vanillins, the unique flavor compounds in whiskey that come from its aging in charred white oak, to create something else entirely. Something very, very good.
1. The Old Fashioned The quintessential bourbon cocktail is also quite conducive to autumn. The orange, deep caramel sugar flavors, and Angostura are all, when you think about it, vocative of the smells of the season. Find ManMade’s recipe here:
How to: Make the Ulitmate Old Fashioned…The Old-Fashioned Way
2. Irish Coffee Sometimes, whiskey is enough to take the chill off, but sometimes, you actually want something warm. Coming in from a crisp fall run or bike ride? Drink an Irish coffee. Putting the finishing touches on your outdoor holiday light display? Drink an Irish coffee. Is it a month that falls between or includes September through May? Drink an Irish coffee. This is what I do:
- Pour 2 oz of Irish whiskey (like Jameson’s) into a warmed mug
- Add 1 teaspoon of super fine sugar, or 1/4 oz of 2:1 simple syrup (recipe here)
- Pour in 6 oz hot coffee
- Top with a few spoonfuls of lightly beaten heavy cream (just whip it up with a fork), or pour cream over a spoon to allow it to rest on top
If you’re not a coffee person, try a hot toddy: 2 oz whiskey, 6 oz hot black tea, a squirt of honey and a bit of lemon. Done and done.
3. The Suburban is, admittedly, a very, very unlikely cocktail. It’s made with rye whiskey and orange and angostura bitters, sure, but – get this – rum…and port. Cocktail expert David Wondrich writes for Esquire,
If you could distill carved-oak paneling and club chairs, leather-bound volumes and three-cushion billiard tables, this is what you’d get. Mellow, robust, comfortable. The rum mellows the tang of the rye, the port tames the raw edge of the distillates, and the bitters add a touch of the exotic, like the stuffed head of that rare Asian gazelle that hangs over the doorway. Not a summer drink, but by August 15, we’re willing to call it fall if it means we can have our Suburbans again, and by December 15 you’ll have a hard time prying us away from them.
4. The Rob Roy is similar to the Manhattan, but better: cause its made with smoky Scotch, instead of rye. Try one stirred with ice, and try one neat. Garnish with a lemon twist, or to be more seasonally appropriate, a bit of clementine peel. Get the recipe here.
5. Spiced Apple Cider Of course, it’s much better to be drinking whiskey with friends then drinking it alone. So, here’s my pick for a autumnal punch that’s good for sharing with others…perhaps on Thanksgiving. I don’t have a consistent recipe; I just put a half gallon of cider in the slow cooker with a bunch of mulling spices then shake it up with ice, or serve warm. But, this recipe from Jewels of New York looks like they’ve worked out the portions just right, so I’ll be trying this as the turkey roasts this year.
6. The Maple Leaf This year, I’ve been learning and experimenting with how different sweetners affect the taste of a drink: white sugar vs. raw sugar vs. gum syrup vs. agave vs. honey, etc, etc. The results? A lot, especially if it’s the most distinguishable sweetner of all – maple syrup. You can’t ever hide its characteristic…um, mapleness, so you might as well embrace it.
- 2 oz bourbon
- 3/4 oz real maple syrup
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake with ice, and serve in a mason jar. It’s basically a whiskey sour, but with a bit more character. And, if you want to enjoy one with your breakfast pancakes, we won’t judge.
How do you enjoy your whiskey in the chillier months? Let us know in the comments below.