Fall Cocktail + Book Pairings

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We've all had that experience where a book that you've been reading for several days is infecting your brain and mood and you just want a fun, tangible way to connect with it; so what better way to do that then with drink pairings? 

As the brightness of summer fades into the fresh, golden afternoons of autumn, we're re-stocking our home bars with flavors more complimentary for the season. Fall libations for me mean more complex, seasonal flavors, and drinks that pair well with autumnal meals. I don't like overly sweet drinks, and I admit whiskey is hands down my favorite base to build a drink around for this time of year. 

With that in mind, we made absolutely sure these pairings were not only easy to execute, but also felt genuinely true to the books. So whether you're throwing a bookish Halloween soiree or just want something to warm you up on a chilly night as you curl up with a great fall read, we've got you covered.

The Secret History

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This book calls for a sophisticated sipper that reeks of autumn. The main characters are all too cool for school, generally elegant, and a little mysterious. This drink evokes all those things and tastes exactly like fall in your mouth. Plus, poured into a martini glass, it looks especially chic. 

Toronto Cocktail

Combine rye, Fernet, simple syrup, and bitters in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until cold and strain into chilled glass. Squeeze a piece of orange peel over the drink and use as garnish.

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Brideshead Revisited

"Four Alexander cocktails, please" says Anthony to the bartender, before drinking them all in quick succession. This is definitely an oldie, but it stands up well, and since it's directly mentioned in the text, we figured it deserved a place on this list. 

Alexander Cocktail

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz white creme de cacao 
  • 1 oz half and half
  • nutmeg

Shake all ingredients (except nutmeg) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top and serve.

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The Night Circus

You're obviously going to want something that looks elegant and a little magical for this one; something that wouldn't be out of place at Le Cirque des Rêves. Glassware and dry ice will be key for the full effect, but we chose a drink that reminded us of a grown up version of caramel apples at the circus. This one is a little sweet, a little fizzy, but has a sterner backbone thanks to the whiskey. With the apple and ginger flavors, it just hits all the right notes for fall.

The Grave Digger

  • 2 oz hard cider
  • 1 oz whiskey
  • ginger ale - to fill
  • dry ice*

In a 12-16 ounce tumbler or high ball glass, combine the hard cider and whiskey. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Fill with ginger ale. *If you use dry ice, please don't consume the drink until it is fully melted!

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Sleepy Hollow

Keeping it classic for this classic short story with a highly appropriate pumpkin twist. Of course, in the story the Headless Horseman famously chucks his head at Ichabod, and the next morning only hoof prints and a smashed pumpkin remain. If you like old fashioned's, you'll love this autumnal take on it!

Pumpkin Old Fashioned

  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz maple syrup
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Combine pumpkin purée, bourbon, syrup, Grand Marnier and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled old fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

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Murder On the Orient Express

A hot toddy seemed like the perfect warm, cozy drink for this cozy mystery. The old world charm of this drink fits the ethos of the novel perfectly, and is the best mug of deliciousness to sip while you get lost in the drama going on inside the train stuck in the snow.

Hot Toddy

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Put bourbon, honey, and lemon juice in a 6-ounce mug. Top off with hot water and stir until honey is dissolved.

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Do you have any suggestions of book + drink pairings? Or a favorite drink for this time of year?