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1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

Cosy Cocktails – Inspiration for your Autumn menu

Falling leaves, Halloween, a crisp chill in the air and a winter jumper. It’s that time of the year – an opportunity to inspire your customers and get them in the mood for winter by incorporating autumnal flavours in your cocktail menu.

Taking inspiration from the season when you’re thinking about creating a seasonal drinks menu means that you can draw upon ingredients that are seasonably available; think apples, blackberries, pears, plums, sloe berries. Autumn cocktails also tend to lean into sweet syrupy flavours including maple syrup, caramel, honey, demerara sugar with warming spirits such as whisky, cognac, brandy and rum.

When crafting your perfect cocktail menu for autumn, think comfort and relaxation, hearty flavours and cosy warmth. See below for a few warming cocktails from some of the UK’s top bars that might spark inspiration.

Warming whisky 

A spirit that warms you up as it goes down is a must for this season, and whisky is the perfect choice. Perhaps considered a wintery drink due to the fact it resembles the colour of the leaves, many whiskies also have complex and robust flavour profiles that include notes of spices, caramel, vanilla, and oak. Whisky can really shine when combined with something sweet, and is particularly appealing when people are drawn to heartier and flavoursome food and drink during the colder months. 

‘Swift to Depart’ – Milk Thistle, Bristol

The ‘Swift to depart’ cocktail at Milk Thistle in Bristol is described as smoky, spicy and warming. This cocktail features Highland Park 12yr Whisky, Discarded Banana Spirit, Chilli Chai, Cinnamon, Ginger and Lactic Acid combined to create a punchy but warming treat. 

Image: Instagram @milkthistlebristol

‘Abra’ - Callooh Callay, London

Head through the wardrobe to Callooh Callay for this short, boozy and nutty cocktail called ‘Abra’. Combining chestnut infused Whistlepig Whiskey and Hennessy VS, maple and agave, chocolate and walnut bitters and Absinthe Spray. 

 ‘Curiosity/Perspective’ – Below Stairs, Leeds

Sitting somewhere between an Old Fashioned, a Negroni and possibly even a Sazerac, the ‘Curiosity/Perspective’ cocktail is provoking, cerebral and classic. Below Stairs in Leeds combine Benriach 10 yr Scotch, Fig Leaf & Honey Liqueur, Campari and Fernet Branca to create this unique drink. 

Image: Instagram @belowstairsbar

Hot cocktails

We’re not quite ready for the mulled wines and hot toddies of Christmas time, but that’s not to say that hot cocktails don’t have a place on your cocktail menu. Heat can enhance the flavour of many ingredients, including spices, herbs, and citrus (are you sensing a theme yet?) and hot cocktails often include these elements, resulting in a more complex and aromatic flavour profile.

Although the thought of heading out into the autumn chill and rainy weather can be unappealing, having a hot drink offering on your menu can work well for tempting customers out of the cold and into your warm bar. 

‘Chai’ – Ojo Rojo, Bournemouth

In Bournemouth, Ojo Rojo is featuring Chai, combining Mexican matè-infused Ilegal Reposado, PX sherry, port, banana liqueur, canton ginger, pandan and lemongrass syrup and hot water – complete with a chai-infused cream float and shaved nutmeg.

Coffee cocktails 

Once more creating a warming effect, coffee cocktails signify indulgence with their potential to be thick, sweet and dessert-like – especially appealing after a satisfying meal. Coffee harmonises perfectly with creamy flavours such as chocolate or Irish liqueur, and it also complements winter spices including cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. 

‘Mahogany’ – Bramble Bar, Edinburgh

Bramble Bar in Edinburgh are serving their ‘Mahogany’ cocktail. This delicious cocktail features cognac, coffee, dates, sherry and sweet vermouth – described by the bar as ‘all the good parts of an espresso martini, with more on top. Like if your gran made it for you!’

Image: Instagram @Bramble_Bar

 ‘Irish Coffee’ – Swift Bar, Soho

Meanwhile at Swift Bar in Soho their ‘Irish Coffee’ cocktail features Jameson Stour Edition Irish Whiskey, Swift X Send filter coffee, demerara, cream and nutmeg. Inspired by the warming feel of your local Irish pub.

Caramel and Honey

Nothing brings to mind autumn more than the sweet, mellow flavours of caramel and honey. Particularly delicious when combined with apples, bananas, cinnamon and spices, these flavours are a must for adding a touch of seasonal magic to your autumnal cocktail menu. 

‘Banana Caramel Old Fashioned’ – Mother Mercy, Newcastle

Mother Mercy are serving their ‘Banana Caramel Old Fashioned’ which is a combination of Johnny Walker red label, Discarded Banana Rum, golden syrup, toasted sesame, coffee bitters and banana.

 ‘Concrete Daisy’ – Lab 22, Cardiff

Lab 22’s bespoke drinks list features ‘Concrete Daisy.’ Local, environmentally conscious and delicious with its inclusion of Cardiff Urban Honey, the cocktail also features Espolon Tequila, Orange Lillet, and Spruce tips.

So, to conclude, as autumn arrives you might want to think about ways you can spice up your cocktail menu. Use seasonal ingredients like apples, blackberries, and maple syrup, along with warming spirits like whisky and rum. Craft comforting drinks like the "Swift to Depart" in Bristol or the "Abra" in London and don't forget hot cocktails, such as the chai-infused option in Bournemouth. Choose drinks and ingredients that will capture those seasonal flavours and entice your customers – and let us know if there’s anything particularly unique on your menu that we can share.

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