Ah, fall. A season marked by crisp air, turning leaves, longer nights and lots of sweaters. That may be true for the rest of the country, but here in SoCal we’ll settle for the longer nights. Because even though it sucks when you’re stuck at work long after the sun has gone down, it also means there are more after-dark drinking hours. (Gotta look on the bright side!) From smoky sweet sensations to seasonally ripe concoctions, here are 20 fall cocktails ready to warm you up around Los Angeles and Orange County.
Autumn Apple @ Cafe Del Rey
This waterfront destination not only has great coastal Mediterranean fare, but it also has a handful of fall cocktails including the Autumn Apple. Made with Woodford Reserve bourbon, apple, caramel, apple simple syrup and a very cool-looking rim of dehydrated apple-sugar, the cocktail is a grown-up version of the classic caramel apple cider. Price: $13.
Hot Bellied .45 @ Drago Centro
Variety is the spice of life at Drago Centro. There are 10 “new classics” on the fall cocktail list, ranging from the Lushington made with Templeton Rye, quince gastrique (!), egg white and 25-year aged balsamic vinegar to the smokin’ Hot Bellied .45, a warm-you-from-the-inside concoction of Bulleit bourbon, Del Maguey Vida mezcal, gingersnap liqueur and lemon bitters.
Big Mac @ 1886 Bar at The Raymond
This is one mac daddy you can relish without clogging your arteries. One of 12 new autumn cocktails at 1886, the Big Mac–blackberries, bourbon, lemon juice and house-made cranberry juice–is a refreshing contrast to the more customary options like the Malted Mule with homemade gingersnap ice cream. Price: $15
Lady Percy @ Villains Tavern
Those who are on the prowl for a hot momma that’s naughty, nice and full of spice would be wise to stop by Downtown LA’s most villainous tavern. That’s where you’ll meet Lady Percy, a hot little number of stewed pear cider, Maker’s 46 bourbon, dried apricots, burnt brown sugar, bitters and plenty of spice. Price: $12
Fig Newton @ Cana Rum Bar & Chateau Marmont
Although it has no relation to the square cookie you used to eat as a kid (seriously, we don’t want a lawsuit here), the Fig Newton, aka Fig Caipirinha, is a decidedly adult configuration of the sweet treat with Leblon Cachaça, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and muddled fig topped with ginger ale. Served at various places around LA, including Cana and Chateau. Price: $14
Fields of Gold @ Black Market Liquor Bar
Try to get that Sting song out of your head ‘cause the cocktail at this Studio City lounge has nothing to do with it. (Although you might be humming a tune after you’ve had a sip or two.) A blend of bourbon, lemon, orange juice, orgeat syrup (made from almonds, sugar and rose water) and grated cinnamon, Fields of Gold is a drink that conjures up the flavors of fall.
Buffalo Smoke @ American Farmhouse Tavern
Mmm … meat. If you feel like inhaling a meaty, smoky drink this season, consider the Buffalo Smoke at this Manhattan Beach hangout. Using Buffalo Trace bourbon laced with peach nectar and St. Germain liqueur, the heady mix is then topped with a maple-smoked, bacon-wrapped sugar cane stick. Out. Of. Control. Price: $10
Bubbly Pomegranate @ Thirsty Crow
Thirsty? Good. Head to this Silver Lake whiskey bar for fall drinks like the Bubbly Pomegranate, a simple pairing of Pama pomegranate liqueur and La Marca prosecco, and Gingerbread Lane, a blend of Buffalo Trace bourbon, King’s Ginger liqueur, blood orange and ginger bitters, fresh gingerbread foam and candied ginger.
Fig & Walnut Julep @ Fig & Olive
Fall is all about figs. So it’s not surprising that Fig & Olive has its own take on the mint julep with a tempting autumnal twist. The drink is made with muddled Black Mission figs, Four Roses bourbon, Taylor’s Fine Tawney Port, St. Germain Elderflower, simple syrup, fresh lime juice and a hint of mint. Get it on the rocks garnished with figs, crushed walnuts and mint. Price: $14
Holy Basil Vanilla Twist @ Rock Sugar Pan Asian Kitchen
Some would say its mall location is a strike against it, but when you need a break from your fall fashion shopping at the Century City shopping center, Rock Sugar is a great place to unwind and have a drink. The Holy Basil Vanilla Twist is a cool cocktail of Grey Goose, Thai basil, fresh lime, vanilla and spice. Price: $14
Smashing Pumpkin @ Raya
Unlike the sweeter pumpkin drinks that make the rounds in fall, Raya’s gourd-geous version at the Ritz-Carlon Laguna Niguel packs a fiery punch. Using Herradurra Silver tequila, Cointreau, fresh orange, passionfruit, jalapeno and a squeeze of lime, the Smashing Pumpkin will heat you up as you watch the cold waves crashing outside the window. Price: $13
Sweet Ginger Pear @ True Food Kitchen
If this restaurant’s incredibly good (and good for you) food is any indication, you’re going to love the Sweet Ginger Pear made with Belle Brillet Pear Cognac, Skyy vodka and gingersnap liqueur garnished with crisp winter pears. It’s available at all True Food Kitchen locations, including Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Price: $10
The Mutt @ The Fat Dog
Fat Dog, a new dog-friendly gastropub on Fairfax, is serving up the Mutt this season, a mixed breed of rye whiskey, absinthe, simple syrup, Peychaud’s bitters and lemon. It might look like a summer drink, but the rye will warm you right up. Besides, we’re in LA, people. It’s not exactly triple wool coat weather. Price: $11
Pumpkin Pie Martini – Napa Valley Grille
You don’t have to get drunk off your gourd this season to enjoy Napa Valley Grille’s cinnamony gourd in a glass. The Pumpkin Pie Martini at this popular Westwood hangout is a sweet ode to fall with pear-infused Svedka vodka, Cointreau, pumpkin puree, nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s like a drinkable spiked piece of pie. Price: $12.75
New Amsterdam @ Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar
You know the shirts, but Tommy Bahama actually does food and drinks, too. One of the new fall elixirs is the New Amsterdam, a French twist on the classic Manhattan: Calvados apple brandy, bourbon, creme de cassis and a floating dried apple slice. Available at all 13 Tommy Bahama restaurant locations nationwide. Price: $12
Red Velvet @ Morton’s
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean you’re off the calorie-counting hook. Morton’s just launched Spa-Tinis, a collection of five cocktails with fewer than 200 calories each. So instead of a cupcake, try the Red Velvet made with Lindemans Framboise lambic, prosecco, Chambord and a raspberry foam cap. It’s available (along with the rest of the skinny cocktails) at Morton’s The Steakhouse Santa Ana and Anaheim. Price: $14
Green Monk – Haven Gastropub
Green isn’t just for spring. This season Haven Gastropub in Old Towne Orange has added the Green Monk to their seasonal menu of cocktails. The herbaceous creation is made with Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Green Chartreuse liqueur (flavored with some 130 extracts from plants), fresh cucumber and sage. Price: $10
Pumpkin Spice Cocktail @ Alegria Cocina Latina
For those in the LBC (that’s Long Beach for the layman), this pan-Latin and Spanish spot is where you can get your drink on with a side of flamenco dancers. If you like things on the sweet side, consider the Pumpkin Spice made with Krome vodka, Hiram Walker pumpkin spice liqueur, a touch of cream and a piecrust rim. Price: $8
Irish Holiday @ Sonoma Wine Garden
It seems a bit premature, but ‘tis the season for a little Irish Holiday at Sonoma Wine Garden. Most people come here for the vino (and the views of the Pacific), but there are plenty of cocktails like the Irish Holiday, a festive mix of Jameson whiskey, Baileys Irish Cream, Chambord, two pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg-infused simple syrup. Price: $12
Pear-Fecto @Antonello Ristorante
This old-school Italian mainstay in Costa Mesa has a new martini on their fall drink menu: Pear-Fecto. Using pear vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, a little Italian moscato, a splash of Sprite and fresh bosc pear, it’s a light complement to a hearty meal. Price: $10.50