When it comes to fall flavors, pumpkin spice wins—year after year. It doesn’t matter if they’re in sugary coffee drinks or pie, autumnal flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin are everywhere. Although some people might secretly hate to love them, spices, fruits and vegetables offer health benefits while boosting flavor—even in a cocktail. And as we move full speed ahead into holiday tippling season (and also flu season), that’s especially important.
For her cocktails at the Accomplice Bar, Los Angeles bartender and author Gaby Mlynarczyk relies heavily on farmers market produce and kitchen-friendly ingredients. In her book Clean + Dirty Drinking: 100+ Recipes for Making Delicious Elixirs, With or Without Booze, she not only creates tasty seasonal sips, she promotes wellness without losing the festive spirit.
“I love using spice roots like turmeric and ginger for their earthy flavors. It helps that turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient, and ginger root is great for digestion and can help boost metabolism,” Mlynarczyk says. “I also use a handful of tea varieties such as chai, chamomile and the smoky lapsang souchong. Their aromas play well with a multitude of dark spirits like scotch, whiskey and rum.”
While many spices (think cinnamon, allspice, Chinese five spice, clove and nutmeg) are found in desserts during the colder months, their warming flavors are perfect for cocktails such as hot toddies. “Pair them with honey, whiskey or rum and lemon,” she adds.
For fruits, Mlynarczyk gravitates to the Thomcord grape, a cross between the seedless green table grape and dark purple-skinned Concords. The sweet muskiness is a winning flavor, and the grape’s natural anti-inflammatory properties are particularly helpful this time of year. She juices apples and pears and combines them with something like five spice. “It’s a winner to keep you toasty,” she says.
Cranberries are another no-brainer during the autumn. The #22 from Mlynarczyk’s Clean + Dirty Drinking book combines the tart fruit with falernum, apple cider and Calvados. “Cranberries are in the cancer-fighting hero league. On top of that, these badass berries are high in vitamin C,” she explains. Falernum is a sweet and spicy ingredient often used in tiki drinks. It’s not difficult to make at home (Mlynarczyk has a recipe for it in her book.), but it’s also easily found premade online.
Adapted from Clean + Dirty Drinking by Gaby Mlynarczyk with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018
In a cocktail shaker, combine the Calvados, syrup, lime juice, cranberry liqueur, aquafaba and cranberries. Add 5 ice cubes, cover the shaker, and shake hard for about 3 seconds. Pour the shaker contents into a Collins glass or large wine glass. Add more ice if desired. Top with hard cider.