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In American culture, autumn is a time of change. We bundle up in sweaters, rake colorful leaves from our yards, pick plump red apples and eat vats of hot soup. Of course, that is not the seasonal reality here. We don’t experience weather the same way those in Boston do; hell, we’re still in hurricane season.
Yet, we are expected to eat and drink a particular way this time of year. Inject the pumpkins and apples directly into our veins! But what would it look like if we stopped pretending we experience seasons the same way they do in the Northeast? What if we rejected the charade of hegemony and celebrated our own micro-climate instead? I’m not really sure, so here are some easy ways to incorporate pumpkin and apple in your drinks to get you in the fall mood.
Pumpkin spice: Pumpkin spice is a trendy blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. To make a pumpkin-spiced drink, you could always just sprinkle that blend on top. But I personally hate powdered spices on drinks. You have to hold your breath with every sip so you don’t accidentally snort an entire spice rack. Instead, seek out mixers that incorporate pumpkin spice.
For example, pumpkin spice creamer is a great investment. You can get the tried-and-true stuff from Coffee-mate and International Delight, or an almond milk version from Silk. With that, you can make a simple, pumpkin-spiced White Russian: In a cocktail shaker, combine ice, 1.5 ounces of vodka, 1.5 ounces of pumpkin-spiced creamer and 3/4 ounces of Kahlua. Shake and pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with some fresh nutmeg if you must.
Pumpkin puree: Did you know canned pumpkin puree is not really made of pumpkin? It’s actually a blend of a few different winter squashes, such as butternut and Golden Delicious. Well, if you can still stomach using this deceptive product, adding a few spoonfuls to a drink is a no-brainer way to autumn-ize it. Just keep in mind that the texture can be hard to incorporate; shake well.
Try this pumpkin Old Fashioned: In a cocktail shaker, combine ice, 1.5 ounces of bourbon, 1/2 ounce of orange-flavored liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier), 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, 1 ounce of maple syrup and 1 dash of aromatic bitters (Angostura). Shake well. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary or an orange peel.
Apple butter: Lambert’s Café passes around apple butter to smear on their throwed rolls all year long. I have always wondered why they don’t offer a different kind of fruit jam, seeing as how we don’t grow apples in Foley. See, even down home country cookin’ falls victim to Northeastern food standards! Anyway, apple butter is sweet and usually includes warm spices, so it can do a lot of work in a drink. It lends itself to being lightened up with bubbles. Like when you use pumpkin puree in a drink, you’re going to want to shake apple butter well.
Try this fall spin on a French 75: In a cocktail shaker, combine ice, 2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounces of lemon juice and 1 ounce of apple butter. Shake and strain into a flute. Top with sparkling wine. Apple butter also pairs well with ginger, like in this apple-ginger fizz: In a cocktail shaker, combine ice, 2 ounces of bourbon, 3 tablespoons of apple butter and a pinch of cinnamon. Shake and pour into a rocks glass. Top with ginger beer or ale.
Apple cider: You’ve got two options with apple cider: sparkling or in a jug. I personally like to mix the jug variety with red wine, bourbon and spices in a Crock-Pot and let the smell radiate through my house as it warms up. When using ground spices in a drink like this, I recommend using a spice sachet so they don’t get away from you.
You can also use still cider to make a twist on hot buttered rum: In a slow cooker or pot on a stove, combine 1 half-gallon (64 ounces) of apple cider, 1 stick of unsalted butter (cut into tablespoons), 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Heat until the butter melts and sugar dissolves. Ladle into mugs and top with a shot of rum or apple brandy.
Sparkling cider is fun in beer-tails (cocktails that contain beer instead of spirits). Fill a pint glass three-quarters of the way with pumpkin beer. Top with cider. Squeeze a lemon wedge on top and shove a cinnamon stick in there for some extra oomph. Do you feel autumn-y yet? I hope so, because that winter blizzard is just around the corner!
Alyson Sheppard is Lagniappe’s resident hangover specialist and Boozie’s most unreliable Midtown spy. Find her on Twitter: @amshep.
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