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How to make 3 fall cocktails that will rock your world—no pumpkin spice required

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Move over, PSL. This season is about more than pumpkins, spice, and the cottage industry Starbucks’ signature fall drink ushered in 13 years ago.

So, perched on leather stools at the bar at Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub, we asked mixologist Colleen Hughes, one of the top craft cocktail curators in the city, to develop three drinks perfect for the season — and give us a step-by-step guide for how to recreate them.

Hughes, known for her creative libations and quick wit, is in charge of the cocktail programs at Crepe Cellar, Growlers Pourhouse, Sea Level NC and the forthcoming Haberdish. Here are three of her custom creations to take for a test drive, whether you like to host dinner parties or just fix a beautiful cocktail at the end of a long day.

SPICED-APPLE MULE

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Ingredients

½ ounce of apple-spiced syrup

1 ½ ounces Titos Handmade Vodka

1 can or bottle of ginger beer

1 lemon

Cinnamon sticks

Star anise pods



Step 1

Make the apple-spiced syrup: Heat the cider and brown sugar in a pot on the stove, and add cinnamon sticks and star anise pods to taste. Cook down for 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 2

Before adding the liquid ingredients, cut your lemon into thick slices and muddle. (With a traditional mule, you’d use a lime, but apples pair best with lemons, Hughes says.)

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Step 3

Add the syrup and vodka to the glass. Pour ginger beer to taste.

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Step 4

Add ice and stir. Garnish with star anise pods and apple slices.

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TART SCOTSMAN

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Ingredients















Step 1

Take a piece of the grapefruit peel and squeeze it over the cocktail glass, spritzing it. Then, rub the grapefruit peel along the inside of the glass.

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Step 2


Put the sage leaves on an old plate or a metal sheet. For a few seconds, use the blowtorch to set a couple of sage leaves on fire. Immediately put the cocktail glass upside down over the leaves, capturing the smoke in the glass. Set aside.

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Step 3

Combine scotch, Krupnikas, simple syrup, grapefruit juice and two dashes of grapefruit bitters in a glass or cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake.

Step 4 

Turn cocktail glass upright, releasing the smoke.

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Step 5

Strain and filter into the glass. Garnish with an unsmoked sage leaf.

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SMOKED-MAPLE OLD-FASHIONED


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Ingredients 

2 ounces of Knob Creek Bourbon

½ ounce of Tippleman’s Barrel Smoked Maple Syrup

Dash of simple syrup

Couple dashes of Blackstrap Bitters

Large chunk of ice

Orange peel and cherries for garnish

Step 1

Fill a mixing glass with ice, and combine the barrel-smoked maple syrup, simple syrup, and a couple of dashes of Blackstrap Bitters. Add the bourbon and stir.

Step 2 

In a separate old fashioned glass, place one large ice cube. Strain cocktail over the ice.

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Step 3

Garnish with orange peel and cherries.

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Photos: BlueSky by Class Bradley 

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Have a story idea? Feedback? Connect with editor Caroline Portillo at cportillo@charlotteobserver.com. Cheers!

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