We took to the bars of Kansas City to sample gin, whiskey, mezcal and rum cocktails that capture the autumnal spirit. Here are the ones you need to try before the season’s up.
DRUNKEN RUM PUMPKIN (ΔΡΠ) — $9
Summary: Creamy pumpkin and rum cocktail plays on the “sorority girl” stereotype
Ingredients: Three rum blend, spiced chai tea pumpkin syrup, cream, pumpkin spice
With everyone crying, “Pumpkin already?” Rockhill Grille’s bar staff decided to lean into the pumpkin-spice-equals fall trope, taking the perennial latte and transforming it into a delicious alcoholic treat. Assistant bar manager Doug Devine suggests this indulgent cocktail as an after dinner drink, and it certainly has the decadence to stand as a dessert substitute. Pumpkin spice, chai pumpkin syrup and cream culminate in a rich, complex beverage that screams fall. Call me basic, but I love it.
Honorable mention: Divine Fashioned—Doug’s twist on the classic Old Fashioned is modeled after his mom’s maple pecan blueberry bourbon jam. For lovers of new takes on the tried and true.
DRACAENA - $11
Summary: Spicy rye whiskey cocktail named for a mythological female dragon
Ingredients: Maurin Quina (a cherry-based aperitif), pineapple juice, roasted red pepper simple syrup, lemon, black walnut bitters
Bar managers Bobby Koerper and Ian Dobyns pointed me to this spicy, chocolatey concoction. “Perfect to warm you up in the fall but still refreshing enough to be enjoyed year ‘round, especially with these long summers we’ve been having,” Koerper says. The black walnut bitters nod to fall and add richness to balance the heat of the chili simple syrup. Fittingly draconian, this cocktail spits fire up front and follows with a rich body.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK IT’S CIDERDAY NIGHT - $10
Summary: Refreshing bourbon and cider cocktail with a house-made shrub
Ingredients: Angel’s Envy Bourbon, apple sherry shrub, lemon
“This is sort of a last hurrah for the summer,” bartender Jeff Lichtenberger says of this refreshing autumnal cocktail. Though simple in its ingredient list, the Ciderday Night benefits greatly from the complexity of the apple sherry shrub, which adds herb and spice notes and evokes the earthy, harvest-oriented feel of an autumn breeze. “It’s fall in a glass—perfect for punch for a large group,” Lichtenberger says. “The bourbon’s there to keep you warm while you watch Brian fall down the hill again.” We’ll need to follow up on that story…
MANZANA PUNCH - $10
Summary: Refreshing apple and mezcal punch with enough smoke to warm the belly
Ingredients: Del Maguey Vida mezcal, apple, ginger, mint, apple soda
“We want to get people excited about mezcal, and this is the perfect drink for people who might be intimidated by it,” says bartender Milissa Crawford. Mezcal novices can appreciate this refreshing punch, as the sweetness of the apple soda tempers the smokiness of the mezcal. Cinnamon and mint give depth and highlight the fruit flavors, respectively, and the apple chip garnish is a nice touch of texture. Crawford describes the drink as the ideal accompaniment for “sitting around a firepit or enjoying as a nightcap before turning in.”
POMEGRANATE TIGER - $12
Summary: Boozy pomegranate and gin cocktail that evokes chocolate covered coffee beans
Ingredients: Vanilla, cherry bark bitters, pomegranate, Amargo De Chile liqueur, wine-seasoned and barrel-aged Broker’s Gin
Bar manager John Liggett recommends a digestif-style, booze-forward drink featuring gin that Liggett seasons in old red wine barrels, infusing Malbec, Cabernet and Grenache into the spirit. Every ingredient of this cocktail contains alcohol, so Liggett’s main focus is toning down the ethanol burn in each drink. Of course, this means you should take care with your consumption. John says the Tiger evokes the spirit of “games, gifts, and grillin’ out back,” so make sure you stretch before coach sends you in.
Kansas City... Know more. No less. Check out the Side Note.