Great drinks to pair with autumn

Fall is here and the weather is starting to cool down. With the season comes a cornucopia of Mother Nature’s bounty. Freshly grown fruit and vegetables are everywhere. There are many great fall drinks, like cocktails and smoothies, that incorporate these harvest delights. Here are a few of my favourites.

For many folks, nothing epitomizes fall more than pumpkin and as Halloween approaches, it will be ever-present. How about a quick pumpkin spice latté, very similar to the one Starbucks offers? Simmer milk, pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract in a saucepan. Then strain, simmer again, adding brewed espresso, whisking until frothy. Top with whipped cream and pumpkin-pie spice. Another goodie is a pumpkin smoothie. Mix frozen pumpkin puree, frozen banana, milk, brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a blender. Even the kids will like this one.

Another fresh staple of the season is apples. My family loves to pick our own, fresh off the trees. Homemade apple cider is fantastic and you don’t need an apple press either. Boil apples in sugar, cinnamon and allspice, then strain, filter and chill. Once the cider is made, there are lots of drink variations to be had. For a simple hot version, heat up, add additional cinnamon and nutmeg and, if you want a little kick in it, add a shot of rum. How about an apple pie smoothie? Blend together apple cider, vanilla yogurt, pumpkin pie filling, a banana, ground cinnamon and nutmeg for a wonderful breakfast drink. Replace the yogurt with ice cream for a scrumptious dessert or tasty treat.

Check out an apple pie shot. Combine apple cider and vodka in a shot glass and top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon. Tastes just like homemade apple pie!

A healthy and fabulous fall product is pomegranate. One of my faves is a ‘pomegranitini.’ In a shaker, blend pomegranate juice, vodka, orange liqueur and crushed ice and top with a lemon zest. Beware, this drink packs quite a punch. Margarita lovers will adore the pomegranate Margarita. Combine pomegranate juice, Tequila, triple sec, lime juice, confectioners’ sugar and ice in a pitcher and stir. Sip this one sparingly too. You could vie for a pomegranate granite. This one not only looks good, but also tastes awesome. Mix pomegranate syrup, orange liqueur and rum in a blender. Rub the rim of the glass with an orange slice and dip in sugar. Pour the granita into the glass and garnish with an orange slice.

Fresh local cranberries are abundant at this time of year and their tart, tangy character makes them a great basis for many a drink. Try a ruby smoothie. Combine cranberry juice, canned pineapple chunks and vanilla frozen yogurt in a blender and serve. A real treat! Cosmopolitan aficionados will really dig a cranberry cosmo. Shake up cranberry juice, raspberry flavoured vodka and a squeeze of lime and top with a lime twist. What about a cranberry gin fiz? In a glass filled with ice, mix together cranberry juice, sparking water and lime juice. If you’ve not tried a hot cranberry drink like a warm cranberry wassail, you don’t know what you’re missing. In a saucepan, boil a combination of cranberry juice, apple juice, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Strain and garnish with orange slices studded with cloves.

 

Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge
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