Tired of pumpkin spice already? You’re in good company. Not to worry though, New Mexico distillers have some mixed drink alternatives to the ubiquitous winter squash.
“Everyone thinks of pumpkin when they think of fall and we did make one recipe with it, but I was trying to bring in a few more fall flavors and think of something a little more sophisticated,” says Cortney Ferrare, bar manager at Broken Trail Distillery & Brewery in Albuquerque. “These recipes came together by looking at currently available ingredients. At Broken Trail, we try to use things that are seasonal and available in state. I might go out of bounds for a couple of the exotic flavors, but when people think of New Mexico they think of apples and green chile, a lot of robust flavors.”
One method of bringing flavors to your drink is to make your own shrub. “A shrub is a way to preserve fruit. In laymen’s turn it’s a drinking vinegar. Basically, you take your fruits and herbs and you mix it with a sweetener — sometimes I use honey, sometimes I use agave, or straight sugar — whatever you think will compliment the fruit or herb better,” Ferrare says. “Then you mix it with a vinegar, and it doesn’t matter what kind of a vinegar either. Sometimes, I’ll use plain white wine, or apple cider. Other times, balsamic is better. You let it sit for a few days in the fridge, and then you strain everything out and that makes a sauce, or concentrated syrup. You basically add soda water to that, and it’s more refreshing than lemonade.”
Ferrare makes the shrubs for Broken Trail’s Albuquerque locations and says they’re something of a rarity in New Mexico bars.
Leif West, mixologist and director of sales at distiller Santa Fe Spirits recommends a drink that has an alternative taste of fall. “It’s baking spices; it’s cinnamon. It’s those warmer flavors and feel. Apples are a key fall flavor as well,” he says. “So, I start thinking right around this time of year of doing non-pumpkin cocktails. I can only drink so much pumpkin, even though I love pumpkin pie.”
West’s Bad Apple recipe brings together some of those flavors, including their apple brandy. A particular point of pride for Santa Fe Spirits, the apples for their brandy are grown on a historic orchard in Tesuque. The brandy tends to be a big seller in the fall.
For those who want to try their own recipes, West has a couple of basic principles. “I always start with some sort of a classic cocktail base. Then, experiment with trial and error from there.” A cocktail shaker and a lime press should be enough equipment to get most people started.
Get ghoulish responsibly. — Jason Strykowski
HEADLESS HORSE THIEF
1.5 oz. rum
1 oz. maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
3 oz. apple cider
Combine all ingredients except for cinnamon and shake. Serve with cinnamon, sugared rim, and dried apple slices
— All recipes courtesy of Broken Trail Distillery & Brewery, unless otherwise noted
1.5 oz. apple brandy
.5 oz. fresh lemon
.5 oz. spiced simple syrup
.25 tsp. activated charcoal (just for color, available at drug or vitamin stores)
3 oz. ginger beer
Combine all ingredients except the ginger beer, shake and strain over ice into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with an orange twist.
For the spiced simple syrup: Bring equal parts sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and add one cinnamon stick. Let cool and remove cinnamon stick. Store in the fridge.
— Courtesy Santa Fe Spirits
1.5 oz. vodka
1.5 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice, plus lime for garnish
3 to 4 dashes of cranberry bitters or 1 oz. of cranberry juice
Shake and pour over ice in a 16-ounce glass. Then, fill the rest of the glass with ginger beer. Use lime wedges and fresh cranberry for garnish.
1.5 oz. elderberry simple syrup
1.5 oz. agave spirit or mezcal
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. triple sec
3 oz. soda water
Combine and shake and serve over ice. Garnish with dry ice vapor for a spooky effect. (Call your local grocery store for availability. Dry ice should not be handled without gloves or tools.)
1.5 oz. vodka
1 oz. pumpkin spice coffee creamer
4 oz. fresh brewed coffee
Whipped cream, fresh or premade
Mix and stir then serve hot in a mug with whipped cream. Or pour over ice and serve chilled. Sprinkle with pumpkin spice powder for extra flavor.
POISON APPLE CIDER
1.5 oz. bourbon
3 oz. apple cider
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. ginger simple syrup
3 to 4 dashes angostura bitters
Combine and then serve hot.