Portland’s Best Fall Cocktails
With fall’s chilly rains, gusty mornings, and early nights, Portland is letting go of its thirst for fizzy citrus and sweet berry shrubs. Now is the time of the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte, obvs); the hot toddies; the mulled wine. But fall weather doesn’t mean a loss of creativity. It’s all here, just a little bit cozier: Saffron syrup! Black walnut bitters! Amaro Chantilly cream!? Yes, please.
Chef Troy MacLarty’s new Bollywood spice line makes an appearance in an Indian take on American apple cider. The bartenders at Bollywood infuse the tart cider with a custom chai spice blend, then mix in rum, ginger, and rose flower water for a bright and spicy toast to fall.
Teardrop’s cerebral owner/head mixologist, Daniel Shoemaker, has dreamed up 24 concoctions for the season, playing off classic flavors with mind-bending combinations. Among our favorites: the Block Party with bourbon, rum, butternut squash puree, and hibiscus tea; the Goodnight Moon, with Clear Creek apple brandy, fennel-walnut soda, and maple; and the powerfully perfumed Saffron Sour with Fernet and saffron syrup.
The bar at Old Salt goes to great lengths to make their very own, in-house liquor. The Autumn in Modena features their house-infused noccino (green walnut liquor), rye, and sweet vermouth. It’s subtly nutty, spicy, and comforting. To make your own noccino at home, check out our recipe from Nostrana’s Cathy Whims.
Tropical drink wizard, Michael Shea, finishes off his Old Quartermaster cocktail with a few drops of smoky scotch and orange oil. Like a fancier (or deadlier) Long Island, this bevvie has a little bit of everything, from two types of rum to whiskey to sherry. Drink slowly and pretend you’re somewhere with palm trees.
The buzzy, free-wheeling bartenders at Southeast Grand’s hottest new bar are going Brazilian this season with the Quentao, a hot toddy with cachaça (Brazilian white rum), cinnamon maple syrup, and lemon. For a more autumnal route, try their fresh cider topped with Amaro Chantilly crème and nutmeg, and kept warm in little pouches floating in a sous vide machine.
The Spanish (Catalonians, specifically) have their own dirty word for hipster: inconformista. Ataula’s top bartender, Angel Teta, drenches her Inconformista cocktail in cold brew coffee before blending with with amaro, sherry, bitters, and a dark chocolate garnish.
Aviary, Alberta’s creative Pan-Asian eatery, is still working its way through the season’s prolonged tomato haul. The Danger Zone is a face-melting quaff of bourbon, brandy, Fernet, and black walnut bitters, highlighted by a tomato-vanilla syrup. For something lighter, try the Accidental Witchcraft, with heirloom tomato, gin, St. Germaine, and bubbles.
For a bar and restaurant specializing in single-barrel spirits, aged apple brandy was “a no-brainer in the fall,” says bar director Dave Shenaut. A Depression-era cocktail, the Harvest Moon features the carefully procured, single-barrel Germain-Robin apple brandy, shaken with lime, orgeat, and bitters.
Mexico definitely wins the skirmish in Interurban’s The Battle of Puebla, well represented in this warming toddy with smoky Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, tequila, and chocolate bitters. Black tea syrup meanwhile, offers a defiant Francophile undercurrent.
At Smokehouse 21’s younger brother in Southeast Portland, cocktails are just as important as brisket, thanks to consulting bar man Michael Shea (also of Rum Club, see above). Wash down those honkin’ ribs with Shea’s Shoestring Catch, an upgraded take on the classic Stone Fence, with rum, bitters, hard cider, and a house-made cinnamon syrup.