From Matcha To Split-Spirit, Bartenders Say These Are The Top Fall Drink Trends

As autumn comes creeping in, you'll probably find yourself switching up what you eat. You may warm up with more soups and stews, opt for seasonal fall ingredients, and treat yourself to hardier dishes that will keep you satisfied even as you brave cooler fall weather. Changing our meal plans based on the season is a give in, so why wouldn't we also change up what we drink.

Just as food menus at restaurants are altered to fit each season, many spots also introduce new beverages to suit the time of year. To find out the new cocktail menu additions we can expect to see this fall, we spoke to 11 beverage professionals. Ahead, they predict this season's biggest drink trends. A few of them even share recipes for how you can embrace these trends at home.


Split-Spirit Cocktails

"A drink like the Suffering Bastard that combines gin and whiskey is far from obvious until you taste it. Since I generally don’t love gins aged in whiskey barrels, this drink surprised me the first time I had one that was well-made. Split-spirit drinks are even more fun when they incorporate ingredients from opposite sides of the globe. Flavors that might not work well in food can often be so surprisingly complimentary in drinks. I love seeing the world get smaller from the vantage point of a bar seat. I created this aquavit and mezcal cocktail recently and I can't stop thinking about it." — Dan Oskey, co-founder of Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis, MN
Snow Shark
11/2 ounces Tattersall Aquavit
3/4 ounces Mezcal Joven
1/2 ounce Tattersall Grapefruit Crema
3/4 ounces celery-sumac shrub

1. Shake all ingredients over ice for just a few seconds
2. Transfer all ingredients, including ice, into a highball
3. Top with Modelo Especial
4. Garnish with half serrano pepper, deseeded
Celery-Sumac Shrub Ingredients
1 cup celery – chopped
1 cup champagne Vinegar
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
Photo: Courtesy of Añejo NYC.

Matcha Cocktails

"With health and wellness being a huge trend, naturally so is matcha with its antioxidants and detoxifying properties. What hooked me was its earthy flavor that happens to pair extremely well with the earthy notes of Mezcal. Where most cocktail menus are adding a whisper of matcha to a cocktail to stay on-trend, I've created a cocktail that really embraces the matcha as well as the mezcal. Our Matcha Gracias cocktail has a unique balanced flavor for the fall combining matcha and mezcal while bringing in traditional tea notions such as honey and lemon." — DJ Brown, general manager at Añejo in New York, NY

Matcha Gracias
Created by Añejo NYC

1 1/2 ounces Union Mezcal
1/2 ounce Ancho Reyes
1/2 ounce St. Germain 
1 ounce matcha chile honey 
Photo: Courtesy of Ophelia Lounge NYC

Colorful Cocktails with Unique Garnishes

"The big cocktail trend of this season will definitely be colorful cocktails with unique garnishes, especially if used with gin, tequila, or mezcal. Vodka is still the number one consumed liquor, and we respect it, but on the other hand, most cocktail drinkers are expecting to have a unique experience when ordering trying a new drink. This season we are introducing the New-groni, a very unique version of the classic Negroni with our touch in all the phases of the drink. New aperitivo instead of Campari — we are using Select — tonka bean-infused Cocchi, Tanqueray 10 gin, orange foam instead of an orange peel, and Campari dust on top." — Tanya Mykhaylyuk, general manager at Ophelia in New York, NY

Created by Mixologist Amir Babayoff for Ophelia NYC

1 ounce Tanqueray #10
1 ounce tonka infused Cocchi vermouth
1 ounce Select Aperitivo
Cardamom and Cacao
Orange foam
Campari dust

Low ABV & Low Proof Cocktails

"Low ABV (alcohol by volume) is making waves right now, which is great for bartenders. It allows us to play with flavor more while also ensuring people aren't over-doing it on the enjoyment front. It's a fun challenge to not only create something delicious that doesn't rely solely on whether it's strong but also move away from only using fruit juices, and therefore, excessive sugar. Low ABV is a great way to think about how we are making beverages more health-conscious. This fall, I think we'll see more cocktails using teas and flavored sparkling waters, as well as savory drinks that utilize different culinary techniques. The most common drink this is seen in is spritzes, but I have been working with ways to trade out spirits for an alternative, such as lapsang souchong tea in a Rob Roy variation to cut back the whiskey." — AJ Johnson, head bartender at Antica Pesa in Brooklyn, NY

"As someone who does a lot of research and who is always seeking ways to provide guests with what they want, I think the big fall cocktail trend will be low-proof cocktails. Guests are moving toward being more aware of how much they are consuming — especially with beverages. They want to enjoy a well-crafted cocktail without it necessarily being 'strong.'
At Quadrant, we often create personalized cocktails for guests, and this trend allows us to experiment with spirits, flavors, and spirits to create something that is low-proof. One way we might respond to this trend is by taking cocktail favorites from our menu that guests already love and recreating it without it being high-proof. For those looking to skip the booze altogether, we created two non-alcoholic cocktails for our Traveler's Journal menu. These feature ingredients, like freshly-squeezed orange and pineapple juice, and house-made syrups — they have been a huge hit this year with guests." — Chris Mendenhall, lead mixologist at Quadrant Bar & Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC

Innovative Hot Cocktails

"Something I've been working on and would love to see become a trend is truly innovative warm/hot cocktails. I'm not talking about riffs on a hot toddy or Irish coffee, I'm hoping for more creativity! I'm currently working on a warm mulled-apple cider cocktail using bourbon and dark rum as the base spirits and adding classic autumn spices to the cider such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla bean. I think that we'll certainly be seeing those flavors on the horizon, as they're perfection on a chilly autumn afternoon!" — Jeremy Downer, beverage consultant at Fish Cheeks in New York, NY

Culinary-Inspired Cocktails

"I see an upcoming fall trend of craft cocktails taking an even more culinary approach. For us at Little Beet Table, that means working closely with our culinary director Matt Aita to cross-utilize ingredients and work them into our cocktail recipes. This aligns our food and cocktail menus even further, and it reduces waste while keeping our ingredients fresher and more seasonal." — Adam Cornelius, director of operations at Little Beet Table in New York, NY; Chicago, IL; and Greenwich, CT

"I foresee the ongoing trend of food-inspired cocktails continuing to be big throughout the season. As bars and restaurants become less mutually exclusive, there are more talented bartenders working in close quarters with talented chefs. This leads to cocktail inspiration coming from the kitchen — sometimes it's as simple as a smell or sight sparking an idea. For example, our Midnight Tango at Silver Light Tavern came from talking to our chef while he was testing a recipe, smoked feta with a honey drizzle. I happened to be eating figs at the time, smelling the smoke paired with the sweetness, and voila, the idea for a smoked fig honey syrup, which we use in the cocktail. After all, nothing pairs better together than food and drinks!" — Mike Krawiec, owner of Silver Light Tavern in Brooklyn, NY


"Traditional spirits like Calvados which are less mainstream will (continue to) find a home this season. A plethora of vintage brandy cocktails exist but rarely find their way onto cocktail menus. In the fall, something about Calvados seems to have a stronger allure. People looking to avoid pumpkin spice or apple cider based drinks will love the rich, earthy palette of Calvados that does a much better job of transporting us to that perfect crisp fall day. It also makes a great substitute in classic drinks, such as an Old Fashioned, or blended in a cocktail with Bourbon or Aged Rum for added complexity." — Kieran Chavez, beverage director at Boqueria in New York, NY and Washington, DC

Hot Sake

"I think that we're going to see a resurgence of hot sake this year. Brewers have a renewed focus on creating a high-quality sake meant to be served warm or hot. What we've been seeing is definitely not the hot sake you remember from your college days!" — Chris Johnson, managing partner and beverage director at Būmu in New York, NY

New-Gen Cocktail Bars

"Later this year, we are now witnessing the rise of the new-gen cocktail bars like The Coral Room. These evolve and change the traditional idea of a cocktail bar to focus on a fun, relaxed, and straightforward approach. The cocktails and bars were starting to become boring. We just wanted to put the casualness, colors, and the fun back into the bar and really have a kind of place where people could have an English Sparkling Wine just as easily as a cocktail and no one's there to judge them." — Giovanni Spezziga, general manager at The Coral Room and Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury in London, England
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