Autumn seems to be almost everyone’s favorite season… Maybe it’s because it goes by two names. Maybe it’s because we get to accessorize our chunky sweaters with colorful scarves. Or maybe it’s because we’re all burned out on summer cocktails and are ready to hunker down with libations that are a bit more spicy and serious. Probably it’s the latter, which is why we put together this list of our favorite Bay Area cocktails that are perfect for fall.
The Satori at Roka Bar
After you finish dinner at Roka Akor, head downstairs to the Roka Bar, the sexy lounge where you can get a wide variety of sake, refreshing Japanese beers, and the Satori (coffee-infused Kikori Japanese rice whisky, house-made sherry honey syrup, creme de cacao, chocolate bitters, lavender bitters). Developed by bartender Alex Riddle, this perfect after-dinner drink for fall leads with bitter-sweet nuances of coffee and chocolate, and finishes with a pleasant and balanced floral component.
The Great Pumpkin at Bluestem Brasserie
Bluestem Brasserie’s fall cocktail menu is a collaboration between the kitchen and beverage teams and seeks to enhance the classics, while also giving you new favorites to love. You should seriously try them all, but if you can only have one, make it The Great Pumpkin, a play on a Diablo mule with flavors of pumpkin (bar spoon pumpkin puree, pumpkin seed milk, Cointreau, Casa Amigos Reposado, walnut bitters and a splash of ginger beer; served in a bucket glass). And maybe also the Spiked Horchata, a housemade play on the classic horchata with pumpkin seed milk, Sailor Jerry, and cinnamon/brown clove sugar.
#SariNotSari at Dosa
Lead bar manager, Chris Lukens, welcomed fall at Dosa with three new cocktails, but the #SariNotSari (Humboldt’s Finest Hemp Vodka, house-made spiced cranberry nectar, Bittermens Citron Sauvage, Leopold’s Three Pins herbal liqueur, fresh lemon) is the one that won the biggest piece of our hearts. It’s both refreshing and tart, but also feels like fall, which works well in a city where fall temps are often unusually high.
The Pear Down at Copita Tequileria y Comida
Lead Bar Manager Jesse Bennett of Copita Tequileria y Comida, a Mexican restaurant located in the heart of downtown Sausalito, is the brains behind Pear Down, a fun cocktail for fall. Made with tequila Don Fulano, Domain Canton, Banane du Bresil, spiced pear tincture, lime, lemon and agave, it’s got a perfect balance of seasonal ingredients.
Spiced Apple Rye at E&O Kitchen and Bar
Next time you’re in Union Square, pop by E&O Kitchen and Bar for the Spiced Apple Rye (apple rye infused in house with fujis, fresh lemon juice, house simple, and a dash of amaro, garnished with a cinnamon sugar rim), which makes amazing use of some of fall’s favorite ingredients.
Six Gun Social Club at Salt House
Salt House is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, so you should head there to toast its success with a Six Gun Social Club (Fidencio Mezcal, Tamarind syrup, fresh lime juice, and Scrappy’s Hellfire bitters with a Pimenton rim) created by bartender Gabe Clothes. Mezcal is tequila’s smokier counterpart and therefore a great base for a fall cocktail, and the Pimenton rim gives this drink a lingering spicy finish. All in all, the perfect way to feel warm and fuzzy on a chilly fall night.
Barrel Aged Mezcal Negroni at Mezcalito
Again, just because summer’s over, doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite summer spirits. For this Barrel Aged Mezcal Negroni, Mezcalito’s beverage director, Guadalupe Jaques, pairs Siete Misterios mezcal (instead of gin base) with a split bitter of Aperol and Campari and a split vermouth of Bruto Americano and Carpano Sweet. The entire concoction is then barrel aged and the result is unexpected, but delicious.
Northern Exposure at Gather
You’re going to have to head to Berkeley to get Gather’s Northern Exposure (Scotch, earl grey-infused maple syrup, lemon, egg white and bitters) a seasonal spin on a classic whiskey sour. Beverage director Daniel Sheel substitutes a peatier scotch for whiskey and incorporates earl grey infused maple syrup, and the final product (see: main image) makes the trip across the Bay well worth it.
Fall Gimlet at Forgery
You probably think of a gimlet as a summer drink, but Forgery is changing that with its Fall Gimlet (Bombay Sapphire Gin and homemade fall spiced lime cordial) that swaps out the regular lime and simple syrup for a homemade lime cordial that incorporates allspice, clove and star anise. It’s the perfect drink for a warm fall afternoon. And a cool fall evening. Okay, so it’s pretty much just delicious whenever.
The Axta Diplomat at Marla Bakery
When you want a fall cocktail that won’t make you fall down, head to Marla Bakery in the Outer Richmond and order the Axta Diplomat, a low ABV blend of axta blanco, axta rojo and an orange twist served on the rocks, that perfectly evokes the flavors of fall.
Apple Rye Manhattan at Pacific Catch
Redemption High-rye Bourbon, Carpano Antigua Vermouth, and apple cider syrup… Do we really need to say anything else to convince you that the Apple Rye Manhattan from Pacific Catch is the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of fall? Not into Manhattans? Well, maybe work on that. But in the meantime, there’s also a Prickly Pear Margarita with prickly pear puree, brandied cherries, and fresh-squeezed lime juice that makes saying goodbye to summer that much easier.
The Camote at La Mar
One of the best things about fall is that it’s sweet potato season, which is why we’re obsessed with the Camote at La Mar from bar director Joselino Solis. Think: sweet potato-infused ice, sweet potato vodka, Allspice Dram, pineapple, lime, and cilantro. A couple of these and you’ll have sweet (potato) dreams all night long.
The “Apple Pan” at Maven
Maven’s “Apple Pan” was inspired by bar manager Tim Hagney’s recent trip to LA, where he indulged in apple pie a la mode at the historic diner by the same name. The cocktail is a fall-flavored mix of apple brandy, rye, green apple, and green cardamom reduction with egg white and lemon, which Hagney brûlées to finish.
Drunken Earl at Presidio Social Club
The iconic Drunken Earl at Presidio Social Club gives brand new meaning to the concept of afternoon tea. The cocktail is served hot and combines Wild Turkey Rye, Drambuie, and earl grey tea, and will warm you up from the inside out.
The Mourning Dove at Beretta
Don’t look for the Mourning Dove on Beretta’s cocktail menu because this fall cocktail with Reposado Tequila, coffee-infused Campari, Chinato, cacao, and black salt is an off-menu secret that can only be ordered by those in the know. Which, luckily, now includes you.
Breakfast Negroni at Wildhawk
We could happily spend all of fall cozied up on one of Wildhawk’s couches, especially if it meant we could spend all day drinking the Breakfast Negroni (Campari, Bulldog Gin, Cocoa-Puffs-infused Cinzano 1757, and chocolate salt bitters) over rocks. It’s like the breakfast you loved as a kid… except better because now you’re a grown-up and it has booze.
The New Trick at Capo’s
Elmer Mejicanos, the bar manager at Capo’s, did San Francisco proud when he created New Trick. The Micheter’s bourbon, chocolate and orange bitters, maple syrup, and burnt orange peel are what make it so decidedly fall, but the Fernet Branca is what makes us love it so.