Fall is full swing here in Washington, and it’s time to break out your favorite sweater and enjoy the spirit of the season. On that note, the crisp, cool air and longer nights makes fall a great time to enjoy some cocktails.
Traditional summer drinks pair bright flavors like citrus, watermelon and strawberries with light liquors like gin or tequila. Fall cocktails, on the other hand, often embrace more complex liquors like whiskey or brandy along with warming spices like pumpkin, fig, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
But if you’re not ready to let go of your favorite summer beverage, you’re in luck. There are some great cocktails around D.C. that put a fall spin on summer classics, from the margarita to the gin and tonic. As restaurants roll out new fall and winter cocktail menus, here are a few drinks to put on your radar:
There are a couple interesting options out there for anyone who loves a refreshing glass of sangria. Pumpkin-lovers will appreciate the seasonal pumpkin raisin sangria at La Tasca. The Spanish restaurant has several locations around DC. The seasonal sangria at Estadio, another Spanish restaurant, is mixed with white wine, brandy, apple cider, cinnamon and orange bitters.
Head over to one of the locations of popular Mexican restaurant El Centro D.F. for the Roasted Pumpkin Spice infusion. It’s a blend of tequila infused with star anise, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, allspice and pumpkin puree. And Hanks Oyster Bar is featuring the Calabasa Rising, a cocktail with tequila, Aztec chocolate bitters and ginger-pumpkin foam. Italian spot Casa Luca is whipping up what its calling La Zucca, made with reposado tequila, pumpkin spice syrup and lemon.
Chef Daniel Boulud’s DBGB has a seasonal twist on the festive tiki drink. It’s a barrel-aged blend of rum, cachaça and Italian walnut liqueur. Macon Bistro & Larder also has a tiki-esque cocktail. The Sang & Fumee – French for blood and smoke – is made with mezcal, Bittermens Amère Nouvelle, bitter orange liqueur, Campari. lime juice, agave and tiki bitters.
Gin and Tonic
There’s no true comparison to a simple, well-made gin and tonic, but there are some good ways to enjoy gin during the cooler months. Daikaya, a lively Japanese izakaya downtown, is currently featuring a homemade tonic with seasonal spices, which can be paired with Navy-strength gin (or vodka, if that’s more your style) for quite a kick. The artsy Busboy’s and Poets has The Lotus, a creative blend of gin, pear nectar, cinnamon syrup and plum bitters.
Stop by 1789 in Georgetown for a Gingered Bellini with roasted peach puree, ginger syrup, Prosecco and mint. The brunch menu Balkan-focused Ambar includes a pear mimosa, mixed with pear puree and cardamom puree. It’s also included as part of the $39 bottomless food and drink option.
These are just a small selection of the great seasonal cocktails to be found around Washington. So get out to your favorite neighborhood or bar and see what’s new on the menu. And don’t be afraid to try some new and unusual seasonal flavors.