These fall drink recipes take advantage of the best seasonal fall fruit—some are warm, some chilled, and some are even nonalcoholic, so everyone gets to enjoy a taste of autumn in a glass. Cheers!
Summer beverages are all about the thirst-quenchers: lemonades, iced teas, and beers the palest shade of yellow. Winter, on the other hand, is the time for hot cocoa, toddies, and anything that will erase the agony of the cold. So what about fall, the season in between?
pumpkin spice everything, when really it should be about featuring the fruits of the season. We’re talking about beverages with apples, pears, grapes, cranberries, and pomegranates. The sort that have way more actual products of the autumn harvest in them than some dubiously-made goop from a squirt bottle.Clever marketing may have us believe that it’s the time to scarf down
It’s time to end the parade of pumpkin-like flavors and reclaim fall for its real fruits, in their many shades of russet, ruby, and amber. We’ve collected 21 drink recipes to lead the way.
Virgin drinks are no longer simply kids’ stuff, or even tossed together as a token gesture to teetotalers and designated drivers. Nonalcoholic drinks just keep getting better, and should be crafted with as much care as a perfect Manhattan or martini. These are some of our favorite zero-proof fall drinks (of course, if you want to, you can add a splash of something harder to any one of them).
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Mocktails
The seltzer might give this alcohol-free Italian soda its sparkling name, but it’s really the prickly flavor of Granny Smiths that dazzles and shines. Get our Sparkling Green Apple Mocktail recipe.
Shrubs (sweetened and infused drinking vinegars) are addictively acerbic. This cranberry and apple version can serve as the base for a wide array of pucker-y creations. Get our Cranberry-Apple Shrub recipe.
For instance, you can mix the above shrub with a few ounces of seltzer for a carbonated drink that’s a complete 180 from your sugary sweet colas. Get our Cranberry Shrub Spritz recipe.
Think of the autumn chiller as a brisk, summer juice with the flavors of fall (thanks to ginger beer and sparkling apple cider), suited for sipping on those still-warm days between the two seasons. Get our Autumn Chiller Fall Mocktail recipe.
What’s fall without at least one mug of warmly spiced, steaming apple cider? Our version includes cloves, allspice, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel, as well as an unexpected addition of black peppercorns for a bit more kick. They infuse the apple cider with a wonderfully aromatic flavor that’ll warm you from head to toe. Get our Mulled Apple Cider recipe.
And now for the boozy bunch. These mixed drinks all pack in the flavors of fall, plus a punch of alcohol.
Okay, “bobbing” for mezcal may be a bit of a stretch when the smoky agave liquor is so easy to pick out among the ingredients. Regardless, that headstrong aroma brings a mouthful to savor against the sweetness of apple cider, maple syrup, and ginger beer. Get our Apple Mezcal Cocktail recipe.
Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal?
Returning to that tart cranberry-apple shrub from above, if you prefer to make it into a spiked drink, you can shake it with some dark rum, which gives it a molasses-y edge (or try vodka to let the puckery fruit flavors take center stage). Get our Rum and Cranberry Shrub Cocktail recipe.
10. Le Petit Hibou
This “little owl” amplifies the fruity qualities of a pinot or sauvignon blanc, blending it with apple juice and Lillet apertif. Get our Le Petit Hibou Wine Cocktail recipe.
Hot mulled cider is well known for its ability to accommodate healthy glugs of whiskey and rum. But sherry? It turns out that nutty amontillado is ideal for accentuating the mellow spices that are also thrown into the mix. Get our Hot Mulled Sherried Apple Cider recipe.
A wassail is made by slowly mulling juices with a handful of aromatic spices. It’s then spiced with apple brandy and served with whole roasted apples that skim the surface—could you get much more autumnal than that? Get our Slow Cooker Spiked Wassail recipe.
Concord grapes have an unmistakable, almost aggressive flavor, one that can be tricky to mix with others. Luckily, it finds a mate in the juniper and bergamot notes of gin, making a martini that’s fruity without being frivolous. Get our Concord Grape Martini recipe.
14. The Flying Fig
Fresh figs are an underrated ingredient in general, but especially when it comes to drinks. This cocktail fixes that: You muddle two figs with elderflower liqueur before shaking with vodka, lemon juice, and agave nectar. Get our Fig Cocktail recipe.
15. Grilled Sangría
If you’re enjoying an Indian summer and haven’t yet put away the grill, you can make the most of the situation with this sangria that uses fall fruits for backyard barbecue purposes. The skewered apples, grapes, and citrus take on a smoky flavor that then plays off the full body of red Rioja. Get our Grilled Sangría recipe.
Don’t forget that cider season isn’t just about apples—pears make for a perfectly sweet, floral, and refreshing drink, too. This punch allows hard pear cider to go deep, marrying it with cinnamon and Courvoisier. Get our Spiced Brandy-Pear Punch recipe.
For a completely different pear-centric punch, add Champagne. Effervescent and cheery with bubbly, spices, and blood orange, this large-format drink is fit for special occasions. Get our Spiced Pear-Champagne Punch recipe.
Pomegranate juice is powerful and straight to the point, but rum and sparkling wine can help sweeten its aggressive edge. Serve this punch with a stunning pomegranate and lime ice block, which not only looks good, it will also help keep the drink cool without watering it down. Make it in a Bundt pan for an even prettier presentation. Get our Sparkling Rum and Pomegranate Punch recipe.
Cranberries and Granny Smith apples fix this sangria firmly in fall, but the ruby port and spiced simple syrup with cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and anise mean it’ll be just as appropriate at all your holiday parties too. In addition to port and Cointreau, there’s also rosé, which needn’t go away with summer. Get our Spiced Cranberry Sangria recipe.
The cranberries here are only guilty of improving on a bar staple, swapping out the amaretto sour’s cloying lemon-lime mix for the briskness of tart fruit. This is a fantastic way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce, but also tasty enough that it’s worth whipping up a fresh batch for the purpose of mixing it. Get our Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail recipe.