By Christopher Zook
Autumn is a great season for bars. The combination of cool weather, long nights, and football season change customers' social schedules so that they gradually move indoors to keep warm. Bars can do any number of things to help them, but one of the best is to advertise new seasonal drinks. Mixologists clock overtime to concoct the best beverages they can work out — and they're (usually) surprisingly simple. So to help your bar get into the spirit of the chilly holidays, here are four great drinks to kick off the season.
More of a Halloween-themed beverage, Vampire Blues is a drink from the aptly-named Death & Co. in New York. It uses bourbon, sherry, lemon juice, syrup, pumpkin butter, angostura bitters, and a cinnamon stick, and it actually turns out looking a bit like apple cider. Add the bourbon, sherry, lemon juice, syrup, pumpkin butter, and bitters to a cocktail shaker, fill it with ice, shake, and strain into a rocks glass. The cinnamon stick is a great garnish, but it unfortunately makes the drink look dull and brown. Throw in a mint leaf, parsley, or even a lemon wedge to add some color.
Probably one of the simplest drinks to make, the Cinammon Toast only requires cinnamon (obviously), sugar, hot apple cider, and Captain Morgan spiced rum. It might take a little additional preparation since the cider has to be hot, but it's a smart addition to any bar's drink list for the cooler months when a customer wants to warm up. Just spread the cinnamon and sugar on a cup's rim, pour in the Captain, and top it off with the cider. Bonus points if your bar has leather lounge chairs and a fireplace.
Ginger Julep '68 Fastback
While ginger and muscle cars aren't a very popular pairing (less than football and wings, but more than Thanksgiving and vegetables), they make a great case for themselves with this drink. The Ginger Julep '68 Fastback combines a jigger of Bulleit bourbon, a tablespoon of organic brown sugar, a teaspoon of peeled and minced ginger, and soda water. Garnish it with a lemon or lime twist, and you get a tiny bitter bite behind everything else. Plus, a little bit of color is always good too. But while all of the ingredients in the drink are important, the "piece de resistance" is the ginger: a sweet 'n' spicy snap that is both surprising and satisfying, and it works nicely with the cinnamon and sugar to give a tangy flavor that just tastes like Thanksgiving.
Flaming Blue Lamborghini
Another drink named for another muscle car, the Flaming Blue Lamborghini is distinctly different from the other drinks on this list because A) it's prepared with fire and B) the flavor is pretty unique. As with other flaming drinks, this beverage should be prepared using extreme caution, and it should only be made by veteran bartenders.
Layer half an ounce of Kahlua, Blue Curacao, and Galliano on top of each other in a martini glass. Pour another half ounce of white Sambuca into a shot glass, set it on fire, and pour it into the martini glass. Toss a pinch of cinnamon into the fire (it looks really cool) and douse the flames with some cream. Unlike the other drinks on this list, this mix doesn't have a hot or cinnamon-esque taste. It's more like drinking a few ounces of black licorice with a tiny hint of spice, which makes it an interesting experience to say the least, but it's still sure to warm up a thirsty customer coming in from the cold.