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Top 10 autumn drinks

The temperature has dropped, the trees are changing colour and it’s getting darker earlier. Not only are the seasons changing but drinks should be changing as well.

Gone are the summer cocktails, white wine and rosé, the ice-cold summer lagers are no longer quite right, but what are the ideal drinks for autumn?

Apples and blackberries, pears and pumpkin are all in season and can be used in different ways for many drinks, while some old favourites can really come into their own as the weather changes.

While it may still be a little too early for some of the winter warmers, there is still a certain inner glow quality to each of these drinks.

Click through the following pages to see the top 10 drinks for autumn.

Pumpkin ales

These beers are hugely popular in the US, where they have become key part of the craft brewer’s seasonal calendar. In fact the Washington Post recently reported that this weekend’s Fall Beer Festival in the city, 45 different pumpkin ales were available to try.

A number of beer enthusiasts have commented on the best pumpkin ales, with the Beer Advocate which averages user reviews, highlighting Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale from Cigar City Brewing, Selin’s Grove Brewing Company’s Pumpkin Ale and Schlafly Pumpkin Ale from Saint Louis Brewing as the top three.

Islay whisky

During the summer months whisky is drinking is mainly about the light and sweet drams – think Lowland so Auchentoshan or Glenkinchie, but as the cold weather comes it is a great excuse to bring out the big guns. This means the stirring smoke and warmth traditionally associated with Islay whisky.

A big hitting Laphroaig works wonderfully when sitting by a fire, so before taking that out of the cupboard have a look at something like a Bowmore or Caol Ila, which are lighter Islay whiskies, but still pack a suitably warming punch.

Red wine

As the colder weather begins it can be time to crack out the richer more powerful reds. The Independent‘s wine writer Terry Kirby recently recommended the Val de Pedron Monastrell Alicante 2010, writing “the heat of the Spanish summer runs through this rich red from Monastrell grapes grown near the coast at Alicante, to warm chilly autumn days.”

Bonfire Night cocktail

Another cocktail that makes the most of the season’s harvest is this concoction, which comes from Berry Bros & Rudd. All the ingredients should be poured over ice, or for a more warming drink can be gently warmed in a pan, popped into a flask and enjoyed while watching a bonfire. Simply mix 35ml of The King’s Ginger with 10ml of Merlet Creme de Mure and top up with pear cider plus three wedges of lemon and three blackberries.

Apple pie punch

This cocktail is a party beverage that can be enjoyed both hot and cold. The Mother Nature Network (MNN) recommends this punch, which warms the toes simply by being packed with booze. MMN says that one 750ml bottle of grain alcohol “can serve around 36 people and get them all feeling seasonal with the apple and cinnamon flavours.”

In a large pot combine one gallon of apple juice, one gallon of apple cider with three cups of sugar and eight cinnamon sticks – better make that a very large pot. Bring this to the boil and then take off the heat and allow to cool. Once cool add the bottle of grain alcohol and transfer into a huge punch bowl to serve.

Pear brandy sidecar

This is a use of seasonal flavours in a cocktail, rather than warmth to create the deliciously autumnal pear brandy sidecar. This cocktail was described by one reviewer on as “like biting into the ripest, most redolent pear you’ve ever eaten.”

Pour one part pear brandy and one part pear nectar into a cocktail shaker and add a half part of simple syrup and half part of lemon juice. Shake that over ice until the outside of the shaker has frosted and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Autumn martini

The Autumn martini is recommended by the team at Belvedere and it certainly has the right name for a drink to enjoy at this time of year. Ignoring this recent db reader posting that a martini is a gin drink, this drink uses vodka as its martini base. The recipe calls for 45ml of Belvedere Bloody Mary vodka, 30ml of sage syrup, 15ml of lemon juice and a dash of egg white. After shaking the drink should be poured into a martini glass and garnished with either a sage leaf or pear fan.

Hot cider toddy

Mulled wine and hot cider are possibly more winter drinks rather than autumn, but this cocktail is light and warming and could be considered the prelude to the winter warmers. It’s best to use unfiltered apple cider, although spiced cider is also a good option. To make each cocktail pour boiling water over a green or black tea bag, leaving room in the cup for the extra drinks. Add a shot and a half of rye whiskey or bourbon and a healthy splash of the cider, these additional flavours can be added according to taste. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and garnish with lemon, cinnamon stick and star anise.

Pear and Cranberry cocktail

In the US autumn also means Thanksgiving, which sees an increase in the use of cranberries and while they are traditionally more of a winter fruit in the UK, it has recently got cold enough in the UK for a cranberry cocktail to be acceptable. Pears are also a seasonal fruit, so this cocktail is an ideal autumn refresher.

Mix two cups of cranberry juice, 3/4 of a cup of pear vodka, a quarter cup of Triple Sec and the juice of one lime in a pitcher. Stir, pour into glasses over ice and garnish with either a pear slice or mint sprig.

Spiced caramel apple cocktail

It’s spicy, apple-flavoured and with a hit of caramel sweetness and this cocktail is described by as “the ultimate autumn libation.”

The recipe uses two parts ginger liqueur, one part caramel vodka and three parts apple cider, plus a dash of lemon juice. Shake these well in a cocktail shaker with ice and then rim a martini glass with agave syrup and crumbed gingersnap biscuits. Strain the drink into the the prepared glass and enjoy.

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