When it comes to cocktail hours and open bars, beer, wine, and bubbly go without saying. So do the usual cocktail ingredients, from tequila to gin to bitters. And while those spirits are wedding staples for a reason—they please just about any palate—if you’ll be swapping vows this fall, consider spicing up your beverage service a bit. How?
Include a couple of signature autumn-inspired options whose flavors are warm, sweet alternatives (think ginger, apple, pumpkin) to those of more ubiquitous tipples. Not only will your guests marvel at your creativity, but they’ll leave the party with make-at-home inspiration to last them all season long. Here are five fall-inspired cocktails—and their recipes—that’ll turn your nuptials into this season’s greatest soiree.
Image via Food & Wine
Stone Wall This amber-hued elixir combines rum, ginger beer, and apple cider for a crisp and slightly effervescent effect.
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Cranberry Gimlet Not only does this tart cocktail taste good—get ready to pucker up!—but it’s pretty to look at, too. Its rich crimson hue is as autumn-ready as they come.
Image via Two Tarts
Vanilla, Pear, and Vodka Cocktail Less tart than apples, pears have a mild flavor that blends well with the gentle taste of vanilla. Flecks of real vanilla and a vanilla-sugar rim lend a craft-cocktail feel to this celebratory sipper.
Image via Cook the Story
Bubbly Maple Leaf Champagne Cocktail Everything about this golden-colored cocktail is unexpected, from the maple syrup to the squeeze of lime. Scotch makes it warm and cozy, while bubbles make it posh and party-ready.
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Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail Pumpkin spice is everyone’s favorite flavor come fall, but featuring rum, allspice liqueur, and homemade lemon-pumpkin soda, this cocktail is lighter and more refreshing than those rich coffee drinks we all love.
Makes 1 Drink
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
11⁄2 tsp. Simple Syrup
11⁄2 oz. aged rum
11⁄2 oz. apple cider
11⁄2 oz. chilled ginger beer
1 lime wedge
1 slice of apple
Simple Syrup Ingredients
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
Simple Syrup Instructions
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil; simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the ginger with the simple syrup. Add the rum and cider; fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and top with the ginger beer. Garnish with the lime wedge and apple slice.
Makes 1 Drink
2 oz. citrus vodka
3⁄4 oz. fresh lime juice
3⁄4 oz. unsweetened cranberry juice
1⁄2 oz. agave nectar
Combine vodka, lime juice, cranberry juice, and agave nectar in a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with fresh cranberries or a lemon twist, if you like.
Vanilla, Pear, and Vodka Cocktail
Makes 4 Drinks
12 oz. (1.5 cups) pear juice
6 oz. vodka
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Vanilla sugar, for rim
1 cup ice, plus more to serve over
Mix pear juice and vodka in a pitcher or shaker. Split open the vanilla bean, and scrape the seeds into the juice and vodka. Add 1 cup ice, then give it a good shake. Pour into cocktail glasses over more ice and serve with sugared rim.
Bubbly Maple Leaf Champagne Cocktail
Makes 1 Drink
1 oz. Scotch whisky
1 oz. real maple syrup
½ oz. lime juice
3 oz. sparkling wine (an inexpensive Prosecco works well here)
Measure the Scotch, maple syrup, and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Add a good handful of ice, put the lid on the shaker and shake it up until everything is really really cold. Strain the Scotch mixture into a champagne flute. Top with the sparkling wine. Celebrate!
Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail
Makes 1 Drink
11⁄2 oz. Pyrat Rum
1⁄2 oz. allspice liqueur
1 bay leaf, for garnish
Lemon-Pumpkin Soda Ingredients
12 oz. pumpkin puree (use canned, or roast seeded pumpkin at 350° for 45 minutes and puree in a food processor)
4 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. water
Lemon-Pumpkin Soda Instructions
Add all the ingredients to a soda siphon and charge with 1 CO2 cartridge.
Add the rum and allspice liqueur to a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with the Lemon-Pumpkin Soda and garnish with a bay leaf.