I'm not much for lattes. In general, they don't do much for me, but I especially can't stand the overtly frothy, foamy ones that demand all that sugar and syrup and whipped cream to cover up the fact that the coffee is burnt in the first place.
But, I'll admit it: I get jealous that people get so excited about these pumpkin spice coffee drinks this time of year. I like seasons, especially fall, and I wish I could grab a scarf and march right down to the burnt coffee shop and Instagram the s–t out of my to-go cup and my boots standing in fallen leaves. But, I can't, cause I'm a dude; and I won't, cause…well, I'm not much for lattes.
So, this year, I decided to bring the seasonal, pumpkin-pie-spiced-thing to something that I like … you know, like booze.
Thusly, we present – the ManMade guide to making your own pumpkin spiced liquors, to drink neat, in cocktails, mixed with cider, or even, well, coffee.
If you do a bit of research, you find that the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte doesn't, in fact, contain any pumpkin. Just the sort of spices one would use to flavor a pumpkin pie. Sad for pumpkin fans, but good for our purposes, cause it makes this project much easier and cheaper to create.
Pumpkin pie spice is a mix of cinnamon, ginger, mace, cloves, and allspice. You can find it pre-mixed at your local grocery store, spice shop, or online. Ground spices only last six months or so, so unless you're gonna be whipping out carrot cakes or raisin muffins like crazy this year, a small bottle is all you'll need.
For the spirits – anything will do, really, but I recommend sticking to liquors that mix well with spiced flavors. Any straight spirit that's been aged in oak will work: dark rum, bourbon, even brandy. Here, I've gone with a reposado tequila, because it plays well with all kinds of flavors. You could use vodka if you wanted, and actually give it some flavor, but I'd avoid anything with competing aromatic flavors, like gin or fortified liqueurs. A pumpkin spice Tom Collins or G&T might be delicious, but I'm not gonna waste a whole bottle to find out.
When infusing liquor, the thing to keep in mind is: a little bit of stuff, a short amount of time. You're not making an aged liqueur or tincture here; you're just taking advantage of alcohol and water soluble flavors, which can be extracted quite quickly.
For a standard 750 mL bottle, you don't need anything more than a simple teaspoon of mixed pumpkin pie spice.
So, here's an official recipe for the scrollers:
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Liquor
- 1 750 mL bottle distilled spirits like rum, tequila, or whiskey
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Mix the two together in a large container, cover, and lest rest for one hour, two max.
The spices will settle at the bottom, so give it a sturdy shake or stir every fifteen minutes or so to keep things moving.
Then, strain the mixture back into a bottle through a coffee filter set in a funnel. This will probably take fifteen or twenty minutes to allow all the liquid to seep through. Use a marker to write “spiced” on the label or a strip of masking tape, and you're good to go.
So, what do you do with it? Anything you want. Use it to make your favorite cocktail recipes, or simple highballs. A pumpkin spice Old Fashioned is a mighty fine thing to drink in October. It tastes awesome mixed with a strong ginger beer (a la a Dark and Stormy), or with some seasonal cider. Your brain probably associates this spice flavors with sweetness (think zucchini bread, sweet potato pie), but this will actually work well without any sugar at all. If you do find yourself upping the simple syrup, be sure to add more acid from fresh lemon or lime juice to keep things in balance.
Cheers, and Happy Fall!
For more autumn cocktail ideas, check out our guide to: 7 Ways to Make Your Homemade Cocktails Taste Like Fall
This ManMade post originally appeared on October 2014. We're sharing it again because it's fall!