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Easy autumn cocktails to make at home

A change in season calls for a different selection of drinks. Wave goodbye to light summer refreshers and say hello to mellow autumnal mixes that make the most of seasonal produce. Kate Malczewski shares six recipes to try at home. 

Autumn has plenty of inspiration to offer anyone looking to cosy up with a cocktail. The warm hues of the turning leaves mirror the golden tones of aged spirits. While the produce of the harvest translates beautifully to mixed drinks.

But capturing the vibrancy and flavours of fall in your cocktails at home doesn’t have to be complicated. Just ask the pros.

At award-winning London bar Swift, bartenders embrace seasonality by considering which produce is at its peak. Then they ‘use the flavour in as many versatile ways as possible’, says Bobby Hiddleston, the venue’s co-owner.

In autumn, that means produce such as apples, pears, figs and walnuts. These and more become cocktail ingredients such as purées, syrups, liqueurs and infusions.

Swift’s approach is an excellent jumping-off point for home bartenders, as well. You might make a quick syrup from fresh fruit, or use a liqueur that highlights a seasonal flavour. When adding these components to cocktails, Hiddleston recommends keeping things simple by riffing on classics.

‘Let’s say you’re going to make a flavoured Daiquiri,’ he says. ‘You’d have your core recipe, and then you could just plug and play with your seasonal ingredient by changing your sweetener to a liqueur or a syrup,’ he explains.

The same principle is true when it comes to spirits. Experiment with replacing the base spirit in your classic cocktail of choice for a different dark spirit (or even a gin with a spiced profile). You may just find a new favourite drink to see you through the colder months ahead.

Easy autumn cocktails to make at home

Armagnac Manhattan

A cocktail in a glass with two cherries

The classic Manhattan is already the cocktail equivalent of a cosy jumper. But swapping the whiskey for Armagnac – the characterful French grape brandy – adds a new dimension of comfort. I prefer to use VSOP expressions, as these tend to bring warming notes of baking spices, dark fruit and cooked orchard fruit to the mix.

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Two cocktail cherries
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into glass and garnish.

50ml Armagnac
25ml rosso vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Spiced Pear Lowball

A cocktail in a short tumbler with a pear garnish

To ensure the flavour of the spiced pear syrup really shines through here, add just a splash of soda water. Any more, and you risk over-diluting the drink. This syrup is great for Hiddleston’s ‘plug and play’ method. Try it as the sweetener in an autumnal Margarita.

Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: Pear fan
Method: Add all ingredients except the soda water to a shaker. Shake with ice, strain into glass, top with a splash of soda water and garnish.

50ml gin
25ml lemon
25ml spiced pear syrup*
Soda water

*To make spiced pear syrup, chop a pear into chunks. Add them to a small saucepan with half a cup of water, half a cup sugar and one cinnamon stick. Simmer over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the pear is soft and falling apart. Strain the syrup into a jar and store leftovers in the fridge.

Maple Rum Old Fashioned

A cocktail in a tumbler on a wooden desk

Using aged rum and maple syrup in place of whiskey and sugar lends extra richness to the Old Fashioned. I made this with Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum, a Venezuelan rum with lush notes of caramel and dark chocolate.

Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: Orange twist
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish.

60ml aged rum
10ml maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

New York Sour

A cocktail fading from red to yellow in a glass next to a wine bottle

This sunset of a cocktail looks autumnal thanks to its fabulous layers of gold and red. But it’s the warming, peppery bite of rye whiskey that takes it firmly into cold-weather tipple territory.

Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: None
Method: Add all ingredients except the red wine to a shaker. Shake with ice and strain into glass. Gently pour the red wine over the back of a spoon into the drink so that it floats on the surface.

60ml rye whiskey
30ml lemon
15ml sugar syrup
15ml dry red wine


A top view looking down into a cocktail glass with an orange drink

The team at Swift is set to open a new bar in October, launching with a seasonal menu starring figs. In the meantime, Hiddleston shared this recipe, which showcases figs against the nutty backdrop of amontillado Sherry.

Glass: Coupe
Garnish: Olive
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into glass and garnish.

60ml amontillado Sherry
30ml dry white Port
15ml fig liqueur
3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Apple Toddy

A cocktail in a coupe glass next to apples

In the 1800s, the Apple Toddy was apparently all the rage among the American upper crust, according to cocktail historian David Wondrich’s excellent book Imbibe!. The recipe takes a little planning – you have to bake the apple for about half an hour before you can get mixing – but its comforting effect is worth the forethought.

Glass: Heatproof glass or mug
Garnish: None
Method: Wrap the apple half in foil and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes, or until very soft. Prepare a heat-proof mug by rinsing it with boiling water. Add the baked apple and honey to the mug and muddle together, then add the Calvados. Top with 60ml boiling water and stir.

60ml Calvados
½ apple, peeled and cored
1 tbsp honey
Boiling water

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