When many people think about tequila cocktails, they imagine refreshing drinks like margaritas and Palomas, best suited for hot summer days and nights. However, the multilayered flavor profiles of many tequilas (especially aged versions, like reposado) easily lend themselves to slower-drinking cocktails with more depth and nuance, which make perfect libations for the fall season.
Spiced Apple Margarita
(By Frederic Najem, director of food and beverage, Bank & Bourbon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Not yet prepared to let go of your margs as the weather starts to cool down? Then this margarita variation may be the ideal drink for you. It contains the fundamental hallmarks of the traditional margarita — tequila, Cointreau, lime juice — but it replaces the more typical blanco tequila with aged reposado and adds in a healthy pour of apple cider. “Margaritas are some of our most popular cocktails, so adding apples to [these drinks] was the perfect way to make them feel like fall. [This cocktail is] warming and refreshing all at once. The reposado adds oak and vanilla flavors into the mix, which complement the spiced aroma,” beverage director Frederic Najem says of his recipe.
- 2 oz reposado tequila
- 3 oz organic apple cider
- 2 oz orange liqueur (Najem uses Cointreau)
- .5 oz lime juice
- 1 tbsp cane sugar, to rim the glass
- 1 tbsp coarse sugar, to rim the glass
- .25 tsp cinnamon, to rim the glass
- .25 tsp allspice, to rim the glass
- .25 tsp ground cloves, to rim the glass
- Orange wedges, to rim the glass
- Apple slices, for garnish
- Cinnamon stick, for garnish
- Pour sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves onto a plate and mix to combine. Set aside.
- Add tequila, apple cider, Cointreau, and lime juice to a shaker and shake to combine.
- Rub the rim of a glass with an orange wedge and roll the rim in the sugar mixture. Add ice to the glass.
- Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass over the ice cube. Garnish with cinnamon stick and apple slices.
Romulus & Remus
(By Ellen Talbot, lead bartender, Fable Lounge, Nashville, Tennessee)
If you fancy spicy cocktails the “Poblano pepper liqueur shines in this legendary, spicy ‘margarita’. We bring out vegetal notes in the tequila with Dolin Dry vermouth, and the orange bitters brighten the cocktail. The zesty flavor profile is sure to warm you up while it’s getting chilly,” is lead bartender Ellen Talbot’s elevator pitch for her bold twist on the margarita.
- 2 oz blanco tequila (Talbot uses Espolon Blanco)
- 1 oz Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano liqueur
- .75 oz lime juice
- .5 oz dry vermouth (Talbot uses Dolin)
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- .5 oz dry curacao
- Lime wheel, for garnish
- Salt the rim of a rocks glass, then add ice to the glass.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with all ingredients and vigorously shake to combine.
- Strain over ice and garnish with a lime wheel.
(By Lana Vesselova, bartender, Analogue, New York City)
The Spanish red wine punch known as sangria truly functions as an all-season beverage in its home country, but depending on the time of year, sangria makers will add different juices and fruit slices to reflect the most recent harvest. This sangria-inspired cocktail recipe features blood oranges –which begin their peak season right around Thanksgiving — and blanco tequila, which binds the citrus flavors together and creates an excellent foundation for the red wine float that completes the drink.
- 1.5 oz blanco tequila (Vesselova uses Hiatus Tequila Blanco)
- 1 oz blood orange juice
- 1 oz orange juice
- .75 oz lemon juice
- .5 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz red wine, to float on top
- Dried blood orange wheel, for garnish
- Add tequila, blood orange juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a shaker tin and top off with ice.
- Shake hard for 10-15 seconds, until the outside of the tin begins to frost over.
- Strain into a highball glass or wine glass filled with ice.
- Top off with a float of red wine and garnish with a dried wheel of blood orange.
The Desert Winds
(By Kaya Villalpando, general manager/mixologist, Trece Eatery + Spirits, Las Vegas, Nevada)
“The Desert Winds is the perfect pick for a fall cocktail, because it brings an abundance of flavors. [You get] the holiday-season favorite star anise, a hint of spice from the chile de arbol, and a note of earthiness from the mezcal, and the cinnamon and amaretto bring this cocktail to completion. This cocktail is perfect to enjoy in front of the fireplace on its own or alongside a hearty dinner,” says mixologist Kaya Villalpando of this beverage that combines two agave spirits (tequila and mezcal) with nutty amaretto liqueur, bright tamarind syrup, and plenty of spices and aromatics.
- .75 oz reposado tequila (Villalpando uses Casadores Reposado)
- .5 oz reposado mezcal (Villalpando uses Kiro Sabe Reposado Mezcal)
- .5 oz amaretto liqueur (Villalpando uses Disaronno Amaretto)
- .5 oz orange liqueur (Villalpando uses Cointreau)
- 2.5 oz tamarind-chile-anise syrup (simple syrup infused with tamarind, chile de arbol, and star anise)
- 1 piece of orange peel
- Candied star anise, for garnish
- Dried blood orange wheel, for garnish
- Cinnamon stick, for garnish
- Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add the orange peel and shake until thoroughly mixed.
- Strain into a double Old Fashioned glass over ice and garnish with dried blood orange wheel and cinnamon stick.
Harvest in Manhattan
Pears don’t get the same fall-fruit acclaim enjoyed by apples, but their subtle, floral flavor makes them an appealing ingredient in cocktails with aromatic spirits. This drink makes use of pear liqueur, reposado tequila, and sweet vermouth, and bitters — in short, it’s an agave-and-pear-fueled take on the Manhattan, a classic autumn cocktail.
- 1 ½ oz reposado tequila (Berman uses Partida Reposado)
- 1 oz sweet vermouth (Berman uses Cocchi di Torino)
- 1 oz pear liqueur (Berman uses St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur)
- 2 dashes bitters (Berman uses The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters)
- Orange peel, for garnish
- Cherry, for garnish
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail tin and stir to combine.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Express an orange peel over the top of the cocktail and garnish with orange peel and cherry.
The Dark Reviver
(By Jennifer Harris, bar manager, Point Loma Fish Shop, San Diego, California)
For a Halloween cocktail with engaging flavors and a Gothic color scheme, look no further than this tequila drink inspired by the classic tiki cocktail known as the Corpse Reviver #2. Bar manager Jennifer Harris uses activated charcoal powder and a flaming orange peel to bring a dark hue and a smoky undertone to this beverage, and the reposado tequila, Italian liqueur, and citrus juice make for a harmonious combination.
- 1 oz reposado tequila (Harris uses Corralejo Reposado)
- .5 oz lemon juice
- .5 oz orange juice
- 3⁄4 oz aperitivo or digestivo liqueur (Harris suggests Aperol, Amaro Nonino,Amaro Montenegro, or Amaretto)
- .25 tsp activated charcoal powder (or 2 capsules worth)
- 2 pieces of orange peel, for garnish
- Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake to combine.
- Use a Hawthorne strainer to finely strain the drink into a coupe glass.
- Cut a thick piece of orange peel. Light a match and express the oil of the orange peel into the flame over the cocktail, then use the flaming peel to rim the glass.
- Discard the flaming peel and place a fresh orange twist on the rim of the glass.
(By Jeff Rogers, bar director, Parlour, Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Carrot cake, but make it a cocktail? That’s exactly what you’re getting with this blanco tequila drink, which incorporates both a carrot cordial and a cinnamon horchata. “Baking spices are perfect fall flavors, and the carrot in this cocktail has a natural sweetness that plays well [with the spices], bringing them out on the nose. The vegetal qualities of a blanco tequila add to the freshness of the drink while the horchata gives a creamy balance to the cocktail,” explains bar director Jeff Rogers.
- 1.5 oz blanco tequila (Rogers uses Olmeca Altos)
- 1.5 oz carrot cordial*
- 1 oz cinnamon horchata*
- 2 drops cardamom bitters (Rogers uses Dashfire Cardamom Bitters)
- Bar spoon cachaca (Rogers uses Avua Cachaca)
- Powdered cinnamon, for garnish
- 1 (32 oz) bottle carrot juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-2 g citric acid
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 4 cups water
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- .5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
- 12 oz condensed milk
- To make the carrot cordial, add carrot juice, sugar, and citric acid to a saucepan over low heat. Combine until fully incorporated, then allow to cool and set aside.
- To make the cinnamon horchata, add rice, vanilla, cinnamon, evaporated milk, and water to a large container and allow to steep overnight. On the second day, blend all ingredients on high speed for one minute. Strain through a cheesecloth and discard solids. Stir in the condensed milk and set aside.
- To build the cocktail, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake to fully combine.
- Strain into a glass over crushed ice and dust with cinnamon.
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