As the berries and melon of summer fade away, Miami’s top bartenders are eschewing clear spirits like vodka and tequila to pave the way for richer, more autumnal aromas. Amber añejo, whiskey and brandy are taking a starring role in this season’s cocktails, and to help these spirits pop, bartenders are relying on all manner of autumnal produce, be it apples, pears, carrots or poblano peppers. And of course, spices are front and center, with cinnamon, nutmeg and even smoked chile being shaken and stirred into the city’s top drinks.
If you’re ready to leave summer’s margaritas behind, here are the fall cocktails to seek out in Miami.
Spiced Pear Negroni, Aba Miami
Negronis have been flying high for years now, and our appreciation of the gin, sweet vermouth and Campari combo shows no signs of slowing. For a fall iteration of this now-beloved classic, the team at Aba begin with St. George’s Spiced Pear, a pear brandy infused with whole cloves, Saigon cinnamon and a touch of organic cane sugar. Combined with Select Aperitivo, Lo-Fi Amaro and Sicilian Averna, it takes on a welcome bitter note. The addition of Barr Hill Reserve Tom Cat Gin, aged in new oak barrels, lends a more robust, richer flavor than the botanical vibe offered by most gins.
PB&J Old Fashioned, American Social
There may be no classic cocktail better suited to fall than an Old Fashioned, but at American Social, they push the comfort and nostalgia up to 11. Maker’s Mark, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, strawberry preserves and black walnut bitters unite for a cocktail boasting nutty depth and a soupçon of sweetness — not to mention a wallop of back-to-school nostalgia. A tiny PB&J sandwich garnish is the icing on the cake.
Hoja de Maize Old Fashioned, Hoja Taqueria
For a totally different spin on an Old Fashioned, Hoja Taqueria unites smoky Montelobos Mezcal and El Tesoro Reposado with St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur and chocolate bitters. An infusion of Oaxacan chocolate and roasted poblano lends loads of richness to the resulting cocktail.
Ojichan Fashion, Osaka Nikkei Miami
Osaka’s Kero Bar gives a slightly spicy kick to this play on the Old Fashioned, which sees a blend of premium Japanese whiskies jazzed up with a wasabi-honey infusion. A few dashes of both angostura and orange bitters provide a welcome balance.
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Autumn Harvest, Okeydokey
Apple and cinnamon were fall’s darlings long before pumpkin spice was even a glimmer in Starbucks’ eye, and Okeydokey’s Autumn Harvest is leaning head first into these ripe, juicy flavors. A Crown Royal Green Apple base is balanced with tart cranberry juice, cinnamon syrup and Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur for a touch of welcome heat.
Jessica Rabbit, Greystone Jazz Bar
If you like carrot cake, you’ll love this bright orange cocktail with a base of sweet carrot juice and Basil Hayden’s bourbon. Inspired by the spiced flavors of the classic cake, the cocktail is kicked up with ginger syrup and a touch of ground nutmeg.
Ristretto Martini, Monterrey Bar at the Standard Spa, Miami Beach
Fig season may be nearing its end, but at the Monterrey Bar, bartenders are still reaping the benefits of these rich, floral flavors with this creative play on an Espresso Martini. Truman Vodka is layered with Germain-Robin VSOP Brandy, rose and nutmeg before being capped off with espresso and a fig leaf-infused cordial. The resulting cocktail perfectly balances the rich coffee and chocolate flavors with fruitiness, floral aromas and a touch of spice.
El Mariachi, Rusty Pelican
Fall cocktails have a tendency to lean into rich, warming notes, but if you prefer your autumnal sips to retain a touch of vibrancy, Rusty Pelican’s El Mariachi has got you covered. A smoky mezcal base gets loads of brightness thanks to fresh grapefruit and lime juices, while the depth of triple sec and rosemary guide this cocktail firmly into fall. Poured tableside from a porthole infuser, the resulting cocktail is a gorgeous kaleidoscope of color and flavor.
Coconut Kiss, Shoma Bazaar
Pumpkin goes tropical at Shoma Bazaar, where the Coconut Kiss sees pumpkin purée paired with the rich creaminess of RumChata and coconut. The base is complemented by the warmth of Licor 43, a liqueur from Cartagena made with 43 secret ingredients. While we may never know the exact recipe, the liqueur bestows notes of sweet baking spices and vanilla.
Otoño, Le Jardinier
Seasonality is front-and-center at this Michelin-starred spot from chef Alain Verzeroli, and the aptly named Otoño is no exception. With a base of Japanese whisky and Amaro Averna from Sicily, this cocktail integrates winter’s bounty in the form of a sweet honeynut squash cordial and a savory note of Parmesan cheese. Don’t knock it until you try it: Parmesan has become a common cocktail ingredient of late, lending an umami richness that makes this drink ultra moreish.
Orchard Sidecar, Medium Cool
A Sidecar typically sees rich cognac combined with aromatic orange liqueur and a touch of lemon juice, but at Medium Cool, the classic is all dolled up for autumn. It starts with Calvados, a French apple brandy, which is married with cloudy apple juice and a few drops of apple cider vinegar for balanced acidity. Garnished with a dehydrated apple slice, it boasts a lovely, fruity flavor perfect for fall.
Pumpkin Pie Tai, Meat Market
There was no way this list would leave out pumpkin spice, but the Pumpkin Pie Tai is way more grown up than your average latte. The rum base of this autumnal concoction is spiced with house-made pumpkin pie syrup and nutty almond orgeat. A touch of lime balances the sweetness perfectly.
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