As if the giant “Pumpkin Spice everything” banners at Dunkin’ Donuts weren’t enough — the Halloween candy is out, the plaid is aplenty, and the stats and politics of football are flooding your news feed.
All things Fall in New England are everywhere you look. While it still feels like August recently, it is officially Fall.
Bring on the new seasonal drink menus and beer displays at the grocery store.
Pumpkin Spice everything is the trendy way most folks welcome in fall, but there are so many other flavors that make this season taste (and smell) delicious. Whether you are camping out for a Sunday Funday at your favorite watering hole, or stocking up for your home bar, make sure you incorporate these fall favorites into your festivities.
Octoberfest beers are out in full force. The two most common you’ll find at bars in Worcester are Samuel Adams and Wachusett. If you see it on the menu or at your neighborhood liquor store, I strongly encourage you to try Jack’s Abby Copper Legend. It’s a traditional lager with a 5.7% ABV. It has a bitter after taste but it is smooth and slightly sweet, making it surprisingly very drinkable, even for someone who doesn’t love most lagers. To each his own, but this is worth a try if you see it.
Of course, pumpkin beer is readily available (and has been for perhaps too long). Shipyard Pumpkinhead is a crowd-pleaser, and the most popular of the pumpkins on draft, if for no other reason than it’s the only one of its kind offered on draft at most places that are only offering up one kind of Pumpkin.
Wormtown Fresh Pumpkin Patch ale has a strong presence on draft lists in the area, giving you the chance to expand your seasonal horizons. It is not light on spices, and has a crisp, clean feel to it. Don’t pass up on this pumpkin option when given the chance.
Typically I stay away from ciders altogether, but there is something about McKenzie’s Hard Cider that appealed to me a few years ago and I’ve gone back to every year since. Keeping up with seasonal relevance, the Pumpkin Jack does not disappoint. Be warned, it is incredibly sweet, even for a cider. Despite the undeniable sweet flavor, the Pumpkin Jack is loaded with spices and an aroma that delights.
McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve is a limited edition option that isn’t quite as sweet as the Pumpkin Jack. Strong cinnamon and nutmeg flavors compliment the slightly sweet, crisp apple taste. The Green Apple option is overwhelmingly tart, so an Angry Orchard or Redd’s will be your best options if you want to stick with a traditional hard cider flavor.
Top off your pumpkin beer with a shot of vanilla vodka. I prefer Stoli, but Absolut makes a great vanilla as well. This little burst of flavor takes your classic beer to the next level. You won’t need many of these to warm up when it finally does start to feel like Fall. Regardless of the season, mix it in your Moscow Mule or White Russian for an enhanced, smooth flavor.
Salted Caramel vodka will also do wonders to turn your beer or cocktail into a sweet treat. Get that candy apple taste without the trip to a festival (or the sticky hands) by adding this to your Angry Orchard or other cider. If you have a bottle of white wine laying around, mix in a few shots of salted caramel vodka, with a splash of cider and you’ve got yourself a great Fall Sangria you can enjoy outside while it’s still feels somewhat like Summer. And, last but not least, this flavor blends well with RumChata as a dessert martini.
Why limit yourself to a simple draft beer in a chilled glass? Treat yo’self, as the kids say. Ask your bartender for a cinnamon sugar rim.
There are a few different methods to getting this right: Some bartenders do a simple liquid, even just water, around the rim before dipping it. I prefer to use caramel sauce as a base because it gives a thicker hold to that cinnamon sugar. Fireball whiskey and vanilla vodka are also nice bases, and they pack a little extra kick with every sip.
Cinnamon-sugar is the most commonly used rim garnish in the area, but for creamier dessert-like drinks, step up the rim game. Start with a fluff base, and then use a plate of crumbled graham crackers to top it off.
If you are stocking up at home, don’t worry about being stuck with a ton of leftovers. Not only will these flavors go fast on your own time, many carry over into winter favorites. Almost all bars and restaurants will have these options on their seasonal menus in one form or another.
Branch out this fall. You are bound to find something new to look forward to next season.