Drinking Seasonally: Cool-Weather Cocktails In Philly
A man can’t live on gin and tonic alone.
Well, he can, I suppose. And god knows I try. But the changing seasons here don’t just affect what’s for dinner at Philly’s better bars and restaurants, they also mean changes to cocktail lists across the city. We poked around a little bit, and here’s what we found: Almost a dozen cool-weather cocktails that you should be drinking this weekend.
What does it take to have a drink named after you? Ask Dr. Jon Deutsch, director of the culinary arts and food sciences at Drexel because he’s such a solid regular at The Fat Ham that Dan Carr, lead barman, just named one of his new fall cocktails after him. The Deutsch is Old Overholt rye, Carpano Antica, housemade chicory liqueur (a woody, bitter liqueur that Carr makes himself with over-proof Old Tom gin, dried chicory, galangal root, orange peel and demerara sugar), and lemon essence. And that combination of heat and bitterness makes it sound just about perfect after a day spent dealing with mobs of cooking school students–or whatever else your day might throw your way.
We made it this far without a pumpkin-based cocktail, but this one sounds interesting. Beverage director Terence Lewis is mixing vodka, amaroso-style cream sherry, fresh lemon juice and house-made toasted pumpkin syrup. The sherry gives it a nutty sweetness, the lemon freshens it up, and a garnish of toasted pumpkin seeds make for a fine snack. Or, you know, you could also just order some tapas.
Everyone thinks about Sbraga for dinner, but sometimes you forget that this place also shakes a mean cocktail. Coming over the bar this fall? The Scofflaw, which goes heavy on the rye whiskey (a perfect fall spirit if ever there was one), then layers it with Dolin dry vermouth, grenadine and rhubarb bitters that make you think less about pie and more about the drink you might have after the pie is done.
Brown liquors rule the day when the weather turns colder. And the crew at Heritage reach for the Four Roses bourbon as a base for this new, autumnal drink. There’s some grapefruit and lime in there for balance, a dash of Angostura bitters (classic), and simply syrup for sweetness. But the truly surprising thing? They found a way to use Art In The Age’s Sage liqueur in a way that doesn’t make you think you’re licking the bottom of your grandmother’s spice rack.
The bar at Amada is pouring this spicy version of a sidecar made with Courvoisier VS and Ancho Reyes chile-spiced liqueur. So if you’re looking for a little heat, this is your beverage. (If sweet’s more your thing, they’re also pouring a Temporada Sangria that’s essentially a caramel-apple-flavored sangria–which could be awesome and could be…not, depending on how you feel about candy-flavored cocktails.)
BAM has been getting a lot of love lately for the stuff coming out of the kitchen. But drink-slinger Christina Rando just released her new fall cocktail menu as well, and on it (alongside the Navy Grogg and white-rum-and-strawberry-jam Tank Girl) is the Little Sparrow, made with Calvados, Amaro Averna, rosemary honey and lemon juice, touched with a little club soda to make it sparkle. It’s the joy of a crisp fall morning as opposed to the bourbon-and-bitters heaviness of a long autumn night.
Barman Keith Raimondi says this one “tastes just like fall in a glass,” and he’s making it with Calvados, Bourbon, Zucca Amaro, Pedro Jimenez sherry, fresh lemon, a little bit of maple syrup, and topping the whole thing with Basque cider. So yeah, I’m going to take him at his word here.
Jesse Cornell describes this one as “A fall cocktail for people who don’t like fall cocktails.” Consider the ingredients (cognac, Byrrh, Skerzo, sherry, lemon juice and an allspice dram, poured over ice and topped with ginger ale) and decide what kind of person you are. Are you the sort of person who likes fall cocktails? Or are you the sort of person who’ll drink something with an ingredient called “Skerzo” (which is actually a liqueur made with Armagnac and grape juice)? I know which one I am…
Bulleit bourbon is still the best bourbon. Most of the time, anyway. And no list of fall cocktails would feel full without someone pouring Bulleit. The bartenders at Franky Bradley’s are doing it this season with this mix of Bulleit, bitters, honey-vanilla simple syrup, lemon and ginger ale–all of which sounds excellent because I have long been a fan of Bulleit mixed with a dash of Barenjager honey liqueur poured over ice. This is like that, only all grown up.
Aldine’s cocktail has no name–because it’s Aldine. Its description is full of colons (because it’s Aldine). But you know what? For those of you out there who can’t imagine facing down the changing seasons without a coup of scotch in hand, this drink sounds interesting. Made with scotch, house-made cherry brandy, apple and ginger, it’s one of the seasonal cocktails from Aldine’s new head bartender, Bess Gulliver.