Pumpkin cocktail

Celebrating the incoming season with a round of spirited cocktails infused with autumn flavors: apple, cranberry, cider, cinnamon, caramel, pumpkin and more. Everybody knows about the appletini, but there are plenty other fun fall cocktails to set the tone of the season with hot spices, fresh autumn fruits and warm spirits. Here are five.

1. Cinnamon Toast Cocktail – Served in a hot mug with the added warming power of spiced rum, this toasty cocktail is perfect for those chilly fall days. First mix 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon on a plate; wet the lip of your coffee mug and dip it in to create a sugared rim. Add 1 ½ ounces of spiced rum (like Captain Morgan’s) and then fill up the mug with hot apple cider. Add a cinnamon swizzle stick if you prefer! (makes 1 cocktail).

2. Cider Cocktail – Cider gets hard-core in this punchy cocktail made with three different spirits and sweetened with agave nectar. In a shaker full of ice, combine 2 ounces of silver tequila, 1 ½ ounce apple cider, 1 ounce lime juice, ½ ounce Grand Marnier, ½ ounce cognac, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of agave nectar (or more to taste). Shake thoroughly, and strain into a short glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of fresh apple (makes 1 cocktail).

3. Cranberry Shrub – One of the newest trends to hit the bar, shrubs use fruit vinegar to give cocktails a tangy punch. In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer together 2 cups water, 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, 1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute), ¾ cup red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (reserving a handful of fresh cranberries for garnish). Reduce heat to low and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until most cranberries have burst open. Strain mixture, pushing the liquid out of the pulp with the back of a spoon. Chill for at least one hour, and then serve over ice mixed with equal parts soda water and vodka. Garnish each cocktail with a toothpick full of berries (makes 3 ½ cups of cranberry shrub).

4. Spiced Caramel Apple Cocktail – Fresh ginger provides the secret kick in this sweet-and-sour vodka cocktail. In a shaker full of ice, combine 2 ounces of Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka, ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger and 1 ounce apple juice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon (makes 1 cocktail).

5. Pumpkin Pie Cocktail – Like its namesake pie, this sweet fall cocktail is more like a dessert than a drink! First chill your martini glass and line the rim with crushed graham crackers. In a shaker filled with ice, combine 2 ½ ounces whiskey or bourbon, 1 ounce butterscotch schnapps, 4 ounces half & half and 2 ounces of pumpkin pie puree. Shake well and strain into your martini glass, garnishing with a stick of cinnamon (makes 2 cocktails).

Image: Dinner Series