Sure, our post-summer happy hours are full of seasonally-spiced beers such as Shipyard Pumpkinhead or Geary’s Autumn Ale. But if you’ve got special reason to drown or celebrate this fall, Portland’s mixologists offer several autumnal elixirs that take advantage of the flavors and clean-slate feeling of fall. These mouthy drinks, all of which run between $6 and $10, match well with the hearty marinated meats and root vegetables that populate this season’s food menus.
For a traditional autumn taste — one that lingers, one that smacks of nostalgia — head to Grace (15 Chestnut Street), where chef Eric Simeon created the Afterglow, a fig- and maple-infused bourbon, with a hint of vanilla, sweetened orange purée, and cinnamon that is presented in a martini glass with a rim crusted in honey and sugar.
Five Fifty-Five (555 Congress St) will outdo itself with classic fall flavors over the next few weeks. Check out the Beets Me, which combines beet-infused tequila, fresh carrot juice, a bit of lime juice, and Maine Root sarsaparilla soda; the Golden Quince, which mixes quince-infused tequila and the vanilla-anise flavor of Galliano liqueur, on the rocks with a salted rim; or the Pumpkin Pie, a dessert-y offering of the restaurant’s special pumpkin-pie whiskey, served hot with sweet cream and nutmeg on top. Our favorite, though, is the Orchard Sidecar — apple-infused brandy (the apples are from the Snell Family Farm in Buxton), Cointreau, apple cider, and an apple twist. This inventive take on a classic cocktail (which usually features brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice) provides a sweet tang that would make even an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner seem manageable.
Another one to be sipped while wearing a sweater is the Stiletto, at The Corner Room (110 Exchange Street), which blends rye whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Amaretto Di Sarronno. And the Harvest Moonshine at Local 188 (685 Congress Street) is a bold paean to fall, with its mix of gin, apple cider, and a flowered pear garnish.
Two establishments offer drinks that let us hold on to that summer feeling for just a little longer. At David’s Restaurant (22 Monument Square), there’s an inventive cocktail that combines ginger ale, blood-orange bitters, and Absolut Boston — a limited-edition liquor infused with black tea and elderflower (the tea reference is obvious; the elderflower’s green hue tips its hat to Fenway’s Green Monster). The “Boston Tea Party,” served on ice in a tall glass, tastes like the most adult of iced teas, to be sipped at a Gatsby-esque pool party (or while munching indoors on David’s pizza).
And you who can’t let go of days spent lounging at the beach: conjure Cancun with the Heated Affair at Grace. This margarita made with pineapple-strawberry-jalapeño tequila is on the menu year-round, and for good reason. It’s fiery — just what we need to warm us as the chill sets in.
A version of this piece appears in this season’s issue of Portland Style magazine, which you can snag for free on newsstands around town. Deirdre Fulton can be reached email@example.com.