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Manhattans and More: Great Fall Cocktails

Fall fruit, a touch of spice, and some excellent booze are the perfect way to ring in cool weather. Toast the season with a few of these autumn-inspired sensations.

At Equinox, warm spices and herbs shape the cocktails, such as the Pear-Anise Flip ($12), made with Ketel One Citroen vodka, sous-vide Anjou pear, and lemongrass syrup. There’s also a DC Manhattan ($12) with Woodford Reserve bourbon, sweet vermouth infused with herbal tea, brown sugar, and orange bitters. The Cinnamon-Fig Sidecar ($11) features house-made sour, blended with E&J Brandy Original, Cointreau, and a pinch of cinnamon.

Todd Thrasher, the savant behind the drinks at Restaurant Eve and PX Lounge, has new creations for fall including the unusual Change of Season ($12, at PX only): He blends gin with pear butter, pear juice, Laird’s apple brandy, egg white, and house-made bitters, and tops it off with a sprinkle of vanilla-infused sea salt. The Cold Buttered Rum ($12, at Restaurant Eve only) is a chilled version of a winter staple, made with iced, butter-infused rum, spiced honey syrup, and orange.

The bar menu at Fyve includes the Blue Basil ($12.50), made with Ketel One Citroen vodka, club soda, blueberries, and basil. Don’t be put off by the severely named Commander in Chief ($12.50)—it’s all fruit, from Absolut Kurant black-currant vodka to raspberry in two forms (vodka and purée) and a trio of fresh berries, including cranberries.

Blue Duck Tavern’s American cocktail list includes the Champagne Grape Collins ($13) with Hennessy VS cognac, Prosecco, fresh grapes, juice, and syrup. The Apple Cinnamon Martini ($13) has Calvados apple brandy, Goldschlager cinnamon liqueur, honey, and apple juice. Punchy red berries make the Pomegranate Cranberry Martini ($13) shine, with tequila and Patrón Citronge liqueur. There’s unusual combinations in the Tangerine Bourbon Martini ($13), which includes Wild Turkey, Mandarine Napoléon orange liqueur, and sweet vermouth.

At Acadiana, two classic cocktails provided the inspiration for one autumn-twisted specialty. To make his Old Fashioned Manhattans ($10.95), beverage director Scott Clime infuses Woodford Reserve bourbon with cherries, oranges, cloves, and cinnamon. The mixture is then muddled with cherry, blended with house-made orange bitters and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, and served over ice.

Clime also concocted the 14th Street Gin Blossom ($10.95) at DC Coast. It’s a combination of Beefeater gin, St-Germaine elderflower liqueur, and fresh grapefruit and cranberry juices, topped with a skewer of frozen cranberries.

For the aptly named Fall Foliage ($14) at Round Robin Bar, mixologist Jim Hewes layers burnt-orange Grand Marnier, red Chambord, and sparkling wine in a glass, then tops it with a dash of grass-green apple Schnapps. The Harvest Moon ($14) is a mix of Macallen malt whiskey, sweet vermouth, fresh orange and lime juices, and Cherry Heering liqueur. Harrison’s Spiced Cider ($14), doctored up with Laird’s applejack, Grand Marnier, and cinnamon and nutmeg, will keep you warm once that first frost hits.

This is the third year for the pumpkin cocktails from Gina Chersevani—the local celeb mixtress at PS 7’s—all made with pumpkin juice. The Pumpkin Cocktail 3 ($10) blends it with bourbon, cardamon, and vanilla, and it’s topped with cinnamon-dusted crème-fraîche foam. There’s more fresh produce in the Grape Smash ($10), with cachaça, orange bitters, and grapefruit juice over crushed red grapes. The Foamy Fresh Apple ($10) is a version of autumn cider that includes orange-spiced tea and bourbon, topped with apple-juice foam and a dash of nutmeg. The Pickled Melon Cocktail ($10) starts with cantaloupe and honeydew pickled this summer and ends with Bluecoat gin, lemon, and orange.

At the coffeehouse/diner Open City, beverage director David Fritzler mixes up a popular Irish Latte ($9), which includes espresso blended with warm milk, Jameson whiskey, and Baileys Irish Cream. The spicier Stormy Apple ($9) is made with Myers’s Dark Rum, hot cider, Canton ginger liqueur, and fresh lime juice.

Fritzler also designed blends for Tryst and its Adams Morgan sibling the Diner. Get hot mulled wine ($9) at Tryst or a mug of the coffeehouse’s hazelnut Holy Molé Hot Chocolate ($9), spiked with mescal and spiced with chipotles, cinnamon, and cloves. The Diner has a few pun-tastic cocktails, including the Berry White ($9)—hot chocolate made with Godiva White Chocolate and raspberry liqueurs. The Beam Me Up Toddy ($9) includes Jim Beam and Cointreau, stirred with chamomile tea, lemon, and honey.

Mie N Yu brings an Asian-fusion flair to the Imperial Palm ($10) with SurReal Red Berry Creme vodka, Pama pomegranate liqueur, and sparkling wine. Cucumber-infused Hendrick’s gin forms the base for Eastern Promise ($10), which includes muddled limes and a house-made five-spice Chinese syrup.

Italian standby Dino is bringing back two tried-and-true favorites: The cognac-based Ginger-Pear Sidecar with ginger liqueur and candied ginger as a garnish ($10), and the Spicy Chianti Fizz with spiced simple syrup, Chianti wine, house-made orange grappa, and Fever-Tree bitter lemon ($10). 

Did we miss any of your favorite fall cocktails? Let us know about them in the comments below!