The comforting, nostalgia-inducing flavor of maple becomes especially appealing in the fall, when temperatures drop, seasonal foliage appears, and indulging in a spirited beverage with a hint of syrup sweetness (maybe in front of a fireplace?) feels like a perfect way to spend an evening. With these truths in mind, we decided to ask a group of pro bartenders to share their favorite maple cocktails that veer away from expected tropes (hint: you won’t find a single Maple Old Fashioned on this list). Read on for our seven top picks.
French Toast Flip
(Created by Jeremy Allen, Lead Bartender, MiniBar Hollywood, Los Angeles, California)
Thanks to pancake syrup, maple flavor is and always will be connected to breakfast dishes, and Jeremy Allen takes full advantage of that link with his French Toast Flip cocktail. “If we could dip whiskey into egg batter and fry it, we would, so we did the next best thing with this brunch-ready flip. The flavors are already there – your brain will recognize the sweet maple and hint of cinnamon from the barrel-aged bitters and associate those flavors with French toast,” Allen tells us.
- 2 oz maple-infused rye whiskey (Allen prefers Tap 357 Maple Rye Whiskey)
- .5 oz simple syrup
- .75 oz lemon juice
- 3 drops Port wine (Allen prefers Graham’s 6-Grapes Port)
- 3 drops whiskey-barrel bitters (Allen prefers Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters)
- 1 egg
Method: Crack an egg into a cocktail mixing tin and add whiskey, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Before adding ice, dry shake once using this bar trick: remove the spring from a cocktail strainer and throw the spring into the tin during the dry shake to get extra aeration and more form. Then add ice and shake again, hard. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and add 3 dots/drops of Port and 3 dots/drops of bitters on top of the foam.
(Created by Katie Wokas, Bartender, The Pioneer, San Diego, California)
“Between the deep-toasted, slightly sweet and spicy flavor profile of the [bourbon], the complexity of Cognac, and the added nuttiness from the walnut bitters, it’s a no-brainer why maple syrup blends perfectly into this mix of ingredients. These are all flavors you’ll find in a lot of fall cocktails, but not necessarily all together, which is what makes this drink so distinct from others. Its layered flavor profile also pairs nicely with hearty meals and sweater weather,” Katie Wokas says of her restaurant’s eponymous cocktail.
- 1 oz bourbon (Wokas prefers Maker’s Mark)
- 1 oz Cognac
- .5 oz maple syrup (Wokas recommends cutting the maple syrup with water at a 2-to-1 ratio to thin it out for easier mixing)
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 dash black walnut bitters
- Applewood chips for smoking gun (optional)
Method: Add all ingredients to a pint glass or a glass beaker. Fill the glass almost to the brim with ice and stir for 30-35 seconds to combine. Place a large ice cube in a tumbler and fill the tumbler with applewood smoke using the smoking gun. Strain cocktail into the smoke-filled tumbler.
Sol de Otoño
(Created by Jake Bliven, Lead Bartender, International Smoke, San Diego, California)
For a lighter spin on a maple cocktail, try this Pisco sour variation by San Diego bartender Jake Bliven. “Our restaurant is located in Southern California so we must keep our lack of seasonality with our weather patterns in mind when crafting cocktails with fall flavors such as maple syrup. The Sol de Otoño features a maple-persimmon cordial, an ancho chile liqueur and pomegranate bitters along with the base spirit, citrus and egg whites. The cocktail is garnished with pomegranate seeds and a fennel frond, thereby taking ingredients we associate with the fall and adding them to a cocktail template ideal for warmer weather,” Bliven explains.
- 1.5 oz pisco
- .5 oz ancho chile liqueur (Bliven prefers Ancho Reyes)
- .75 oz. lime juice
- .75 oz maple-persimmon cordial*
- 2 dashes pomegranate bitters or Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 egg white
- Pomegranate seeds and fennel fronds, for garnish
Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake without ice to emulsify egg). Add ice to the shaker tin and shake until shaker tin is almost frozen on the outside to ensure a frothy cocktail. Double strain into chilled coupe glass and garnish before serving.
- 2 cups Grade B maple syrup
- 1 cup persimmon juice
- 1 oz bonded apple brandy
Method: Stir to combine.
(Created by Karol Ansaldi, Beverage Director, Komodo, Miami, Florida)
The sweet, distinctive flavor profile of maple syrup makes it a worthy partner for a wide range of spirits. In the Maple Dojo, Miami beverage director Karol Ansaldi “uses maple syrup to balance the flavors of rum, mezcal, Kahlua, and angostura bitters. The result is a cocktail you can cozy up to, with sweet and strong [taste elements].”
- 1.5 oz aged rum (Ansaldi prefers Zacapa 23)
- 1/3 oz mezcal (Ansaldi prefers Montelobos)
- 1 bar spoon maple syrup
- 1 bar spoon Kahlua
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
Method: Add ingredients to a tumbler and stir to combine. Serve over ice.
(Created by Kyle Browning, Bartender, Soi Capitol Hill, Seattle, Washington)
Hearty root vegetables like carrots have a definite autumnal feel, and Seattle bartender Kyle Browning likes to blend carrot juice with rich maple, bright citrus, and lightweight blanco tequila to make a balanced and flavorful cocktail. “I love this cocktail. The freshness of the carrots is the perfect foil for the earthy, sweet flavors of maple. Tequila and lime give it a kick,” Browning tells The Manual.
- 1.5 oz blanco tequila
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 oz carrot juice (Browning prefers house-made heirloom rainbow carrot juice)
- .25 oz maple syrup
- .25 oz ginger syrup*
- Rosemary leaves, for garnish
Method: Add ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake to combine. Strain into a tumbler and serve over ice. Garnish with rosemary.
*Ginger Syrup: Juice 1 whole ginger root and fine-strain with a chinois or cheesecloth. Mix 2 parts sugar with 1 part ginger juice. Blend until sugar is dissolved and refrigerate until ready to use.
North of the Border Julep
(Created by Andrew Pope, Bartender, The Bar at Willett, Bardstown, Kentucky)
When designing his maple-and-bourbon-based twist on the classic mint julep, Kentucky bartender Andrew Pope drew inspiration from childhood trips to the Great White North: “As a child, I used to ski in Canada, and a favorite treat there for young children is boiled maple syrup poured over clean snow and rolled together over a popsicle stick. The result, essentially, is maple taffy on a stick, and it’s as delicious as it sounds. The North of the Border Julep is my attempt to re-create the ‘snow and maple syrup’ while adding traditional Canadian distilled spirits (rye and apple brandy) in the form of a cocktail. Cheers!”
- 1 oz rye whiskey (Pope prefers Willett Rye Whiskey)
- 1 oz applejack brandy
- .5 oz pure maple syrup
- Mint, to taste
- Angostura bitters, to taste
Method: Add mint and maple syrup to a julep or highball glass and muddle to combine. Add crushed ice to the glass, then add rye whiskey, applejack brandy, and bitters. Stir to combine. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Where I’d Gone
(Created by Marshall Minaya, Beverage Director, Valerie, New York City, New York)
“I believe that maple and pear flavors work so well together overall. In the past, I have made a maple-pear puree to incorporate into cocktails, but this time around, I was looking for another spirit to pair with vodka. Finger Lakes Distilling makes a great little product upstate, and with the balance of maple and brandy, just the little amount we use in our cocktail goes a long way,” says NYC beverage director Marshall Minaya of this maple, vodka, and pear-flavored autumn cocktail.
- 1.5 oz vodka (Minaya prefers Moskovskaya Vodka)
- .25 oz maple liqueur (Minaya prefers Maplejack Liqueur from Finger Lakes Distilling)
- .25 oz verjus
- .75 oz pear syrup
- .25 oz ginger syrup
- .5 oz lemon juice
- 2 dashes of salt
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Method: Add all ingredients except soda to a cocktail-mixing tin. Add ice and shake to combine. Slowly ‘fold” soda into the tin and strain into a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with lemon twist.
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