Say so long to summer’s light concoctions. This season’s drinks are all about rich flavors like apple, chestnut, chai, and, of course, pumpkin. Whether you’re looking for a way to warm up a chilly evening or wind down for the weekend, we’ve found 10 of the city’s top cocktails for getting you in the autumn spirit.
The Monkey’s Fist
Made with Monkey Shoulder blended malt Scotch whiskey and Krupnikas spiced honey liqueur, this drink by Pint Central mixologist Henry Schmulling is the cool cocktail answer to your grandmother’s favorite hot toddy. The spirits are shaken with fresh lemon and Woodford Reserve’s barrel-aged spiced cherry bitters, and topped with a thin lemon wheel and fragrant cloves.
1226 Central Ave. 980-237-9108; www.pint-central.com.
Sure, you could order a regular Manhattan, but those don’t come with a sweet potato chip and bruleed marshmallow on top like this re-imagined treat at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. Served chilled in a martini glass, the smooth drink is a potent twist on sweet potato pie, featuring Old Forester 86 bourbon, cardamom honey, and sweet potato simple syrup.
4310 Sharon Road. 704-365-1922; www.thecowfish.com.
If you’re looking for the perfect setting for a hip fall cocktail, Plaza Midwood’s cozy Soul Gastrolounge is it. The second-story lounge-meets-restaurant’s exposed brick walls and convivial atmosphere set the scene for a warm evening of seasonal sips. First on your drink list? The juicy Calvados Cooler, made with Calvados Apple Brandy, organic apple nectar, and sarsaparilla, with a sprig of rosemary.
1500 Central Ave. 704-348-1848; www.soulgastrolounge.com.
Leave it to innovative Heist bartender Stefan Huebner to create a tequila cocktail with flavors sure to make you nostalgic for your favorite fall days past. This cold drink is a mix of Vida mezcal, green chartreuse, fresh sour mix, and cherry bitters. But the seasonal cincher is the addition of Huebner’s sweet Fall Syrup, made with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove.
2909 N. Davidson St., Suite 200. 704-375-8260; www.heistbrewery.com.
Chances are sangria isn’t your first thought when it comes to cool weather cocktails. But Myers Park’s Stagioni restaurant is serving up a twist on the traditional Spanish cocktail, making it the perfect mix for a crisp fall night. Brandy, cherry liqueur, lemon, orange, apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar are added to Italian red wine for a boozy drink perfect for enjoying in the elegant restaurant’s intimate bar.
715 Providence Road. 704-372-8110; www.stagioniclt.com.
Rum & Rummer
The smooth sweetness of vanilla liqueur is a mellowing match for the spicy kick of the chai tea simple syrup in this seasonal drink by Bob Peters at the Ritz-Carlton’s Punch Room. Mixed over ice with Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Rum, and served strained in a Nick & Nora cocktail glass, it’s a small, but powerful elixir that’s perfect for slow sipping while soaking in the bar’s skyline views.
201 E. Trade St. 704-547-2244; www.ritzcarlton.com/en/properties/Charlotte.
Nuts and Honey
Heirloom restaurant is taking bar nuts to the next level with this seasonally inspired libation. Housemade black walnut bitters and the restaurant’s chestnut-infused Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Rum give the iced drink an inviting nutty flavor. But the Krupnikas Spiced Honey Liqueur and a cinnamon and ginger syrup offer a hint of heat sure to warm you up on the coldest of autumn days.
8470 Bellhaven Blvd. 704-595-7710; www.heirloomrestaurantnc.com.
Punk’n Pecan Mule
You can have your pie and drink it, too, with this Moscow Mule remix from Crepe Cellar bartender Colleen Hughes. Created with a housemade pumpkin syrup and cinnamon tincture, mixed with Cathead Pecan Vodka and ginger beer, this cocktail features all the flavors of your favorite fall desserts. Now, if you could just find a way for this to be among the offerings at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
3116 N. Davidson St. 704-910-6543; www.crepecellar.com.
Pear + Ginger
Toasting the autumn season gets a modern twist with this bright-tasting cocktail at The Asbury restaurant in uptown. The crisp and juicy drink is made with Absolut Pears, ginger liqueur, spiced pear syrup, and fresh lemon. It’s a fresh, grown-up take on fall flavors, with enough spirit to give a warm finish to a blustery evening.
235 N. Tryon St. 704-342-1193; www.theasbury.com.
Yammy Davis Jr
Don’t let its playful name fool you. This mix of Jack Daniels, Cointreau, sweet potato syrup, and lemon juice packs a punch. You’ll order it at the chic and stylish bar at Good Food on Montford. But the harvest-flavored highball will conjure images of crackling firesides and cozy sweaters.
1701 Montford Drive. 704-525-0881; www.goodfoodonmontford.com.