20 Drinks to Help You Forget Last Year’s Misdemeanor
1. Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria with Lillet Rosé
This sparkling sangria makes use of the French aperitif Lillet Rosé, which comes already flavored with sweet and bitter orange peel and fruit liqueurs to boost the flavor of the pitcher drink. Grapefruit adds crisp tartness, just right for a hot day.
Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Thyme, gin, and elderflower liqueur gently enhance sparkling wine in this cocktail adapted from Eleven Madison Park in New York (and featured in Mix Shake Stir.) The original features a syrup made from lemon thyme, but it works fine with regular thyme, too.
There’s no need to use fancy Champagne for this cocktail—any decent cremant, cava, or prosecco will work.
3. Pop! Cider
Try serving this seasonal sparkling cocktail as guests walk into your home for this year’s round of parties. A splash of apple cider makes this drink appropriate for fall, and herbal, honeyed Benedictine is a natural mate.
4. Lavender Bubbly
Thank goodness spring is finally here. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, I mean, what more could you want? Perhaps a tasty cocktail, that’s what. Lavender, which is a member of the mint family, is the perfect starting point. Lemon is a natural partner for lavender, bringing a bright, fresh flavor, while gin highlights the herbal side. A quick flip through some of the recipe books led us to a French 75—a classic combination of lemon juice, gin, simple syrup, and the kicker—Champagne. Let’s add a little bubbly action to this celebration!
5. Aperol Spritz
A Roman friend of mine drinks these fizzy aperitifs all summer; they’re perfect for sipping as the afternoon heat dies down and you’re trying to figure out where to go for dinner. The Aperol Spritz is a bit more adult than a soda, but still sweet and friendly, orange-and-rhubarb flavored with just a hint of grapefruit-rind bitterness.
6. Champagne Mojito
If you’re hosting brunch and you want to serve something a little more creative than the standard mimosa, consider this tart and fresh variation on the mojito. Rather than using club soda to get fizzy, this drink employs a little sparkling wine, plus a handful of muddled grapes to add a fruity complexity.
7. Clementine French 75
Playing up the tart, fruity side of Concord grapes, this drink pairs fresh grape puree with floral elderflower liqueur. Although Concords rightfully have a reputation for having a very bold flavor, they’re at home with lighter spirits in this dressed up take on the classic French 75—a mix of gin, sparkling wine, fresh lemon juice, and sugar. The gorgeous color that the grape puree brings this drink is just a nice bonus.
8. Sparkling Apple Sangria
This drink is halfway between a classic Arnold Palmer and a vivid red sangria. Adding ginger and blackberries to the tea punched up the flavor, and using sparkling apple cider instead of a sugar syrup gave it just the right amount of sweetness. Serve it in a wineglass garnished with blackberries—it’s the perfect nonalcoholic thirst quencher for lounging on the front porch.
9. Ginger Grapefruit Sparkler
With citrus season in full swing, it’s easy to whip up a bright and invigorating cocktail in no time. One of our favorite combinations recently has been the bittersweet flavor of fresh ruby red grapefruit juice paired with the sweet, spicy notes of ginger.
Grapefruit, with its slightly bitter punch, used to throw people for a loop, but lately we’ve taken a real liking to it, embracing the pungent flavor. One of the ways we eased into is by pairing it with another strong flavor like ginger. Together this duo is hard to beat—spicy, citrusy and bright. But turn the duo into a trio by adding a little bubbly over top, and you’ve got yourself a cocktail that will keep you on your toes.
10. Spiced Cranberry Rum Fizz
Incorporating the classic flavors of cranberry sauce—tart cranberries, the warm brightness of orange zest, and a kick of ginger—this easy cocktail re-imagines the timeless flavors of fall. Batching the mixer before your party makes hosting stress-free.
11. The Ampersand Cocktail
No gimmicks here: this is the fall cocktail for folks who aren’t interested in pumpkin-spiced anything. The Ampersand is a simple classic that you might not have tried before, and its copper color makes it the perfect signature cocktail for any autumn gathering. Made with cognac, rich Old Tom gin, and sweet vermouth, and seasoned with orange bitters, this smooth sipper will have your guests asking for the recipe. (No need to write it down; it’s just equal parts.)
12. The Apple Crisp Cocktail
This autumnal highball from the Union Square Cafe in NYC brings together Laird’s bonded apple brandy with bourbon that’s been infused with spicy green cardamom pods. It’s lightly spicy but still refreshing. If you are looking to up the ante on apple cocktails, this drink is for you.
13. Bitter and Bold Sangria
Sometimes sangria is too fruity and cloyingly sweet. But this version, which starts with a base of red wine, is bold, bitter, and complex. A shot of Campari provides a bitter backdrop for the cranberry syrup. A bit of bourbon fortifies and adds richness. Fresh oranges are a great flavor match for each of the ingredients.
14. The Cardamaro Concord Cocktail
Cardamaro is relatively mild, sweet amaro made from wine infused with cardoon and blessed thistle. It’s definitely reminiscent of spiced or mulled wine, although a bit more complex, so it’s perfect for cool-weather sipping. Paired with robust bourbon and a bright, fresh Concord grape puree, this is just the drink for ringing in the season.
15. Granny’s Navy Grog
Taking a cue from the tiki tradition, this cocktail layers light rum with a fuller-bodied aged dark rum, mixed up with fall-appropriate hard cider (a brand that’s easily found in your local grocery store). Fresh squeezed grapefruit and lemon juice brighten things up. Although you might expect that a cocktail with two types of rum would be heavy, this one is surprisingly light, with just enough body and warmth for cool weather sipping.
16. The Great Calabaza
Smoky, savory mezcal provides the base for this fall riff on a margarita. Pumpkin butter brings a richer texture to the drink, which is made tart and fresh with citrus. Rimming the glass with a quick homemade five spice salt adds another layer of warmth. If you don’t have a fireplace, this toasty cocktail is the next best thing.
17. Orchard Boulevardier
Stir bracing rye and bittersweet Campari into hot apple cider (with a little rich vermouth) and you’ve got the perfect hot drink to serve before Thanksgiving dinner with spiced nuts, or after the feast, when everyone’s resting up for their midnight snack.
18. The Paper Plane
We like drinks with a touch of bitterness to get the appetite warmed up. Sam Ross of New York’s Little Branch created this drink while listening to M.I.A.’s song, which gave the drink its name. In the glass, you’ve got bourbon, Aperol, and delicious Amaro Nonino for results that are earthy, citrusy, and just lightly bitter.
19. Pom Pomme
A fruity, fizzy drink that’s not at all cloying, this sparkler is just right for a welcoming toast. It stars pomegranates (the pom) and apples (the pomme). A dry hard cider is the perfect autumnal stand-in for bubbly, and apple brandy lends another layer of rich fall flavor.
20. Scotch, Sherry, and Concord Cocktail
With alternating smoky, nutty, and jammy notes, this cocktail plays up the complexity of the flavor of fresh Concord grapes. Dry oloroso sherry, which has a nutty richness, brings together the rich grapes and savory Scotch in a drink that’s become a favorite of ours.