Firing Up the Base: Three Flavorful Mixed Drinks for Fall


Barman John Mayer’s cool-weather secret weapon? The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters ($16). “They have these incredibly prominent flavors of clove and raisin,” he says. “They are incredibly potent, so it doesn’t take much—a dash here, a dash there. Boom: instant fall.” (Photograph by Bruce Peterson. Styling by Molly Shuster/Team.)

Rimming a martini glass in cinnamon sugar is about as legit a transition to autumn as pinning foliage to your bathing suit. To venture beyond cosmetic gimmickry, try changing up your beverage’s base spirit instead. “You can move to dedicated fall cocktails that are similar to what you’re used to just by swapping out one ingredient,” says Citizen Public House bartender John Mayer, who offers three autumn-appropriate elixirs—as well as professional-caliber recipes guaranteed to make them shine—below.

Becherovka, Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, Old Monk Rum, and the Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters are available at Liquor Land.


The Booze: “It’s a bitter spirit from the Czech Republic known for its qualities of baking spice: big cinnamon, allspice, clove, and a little bit of anise,” Mayer says. “It’s really punchy without being sugary.”

The Swap: Take a Dark and Stormy to the next level by using Becherovka instead of rum.

The Pro Drink: The Magic Wand Malfunction (invented by Mayer at Local 149): 1 oz. Becherovka + 1 oz. Blanco tequila + 3/4 oz. simple syrup (he suggests using Demerara sugar) + 1/2 oz. lemon juice + 1 dash the Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The Booze: “They take the fermented juice from pressed apples and distill that, and then they age it under supervision of a federal facility. It is unadulterated apple deliciousness.”

The Swap: Turn a whiskey sour (whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar) into a Jack Rose by subbing bonded apple brandy for whiskey and grenadine for sugar.

The Pro Drink: The Widow’s Kiss: 1 1/2 oz. bonded apple brandy + 3/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse + 3/4 oz. Bénédictine + 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


The Booze: “It comes from India, and it’s incredibly popular worldwide. It has an incredibly strong butterscotch and vanilla quality, which plays really well with any traditional autumnal flavors.”

The Swap: To morph a Manhattan, use the rum in lieu of bourbon or rye, mix with sweet vermouth, and top it off with molé bitters instead of Angostura.

The Pro Drink: The 1919 (invented at Drink): 1 oz. Punt e Mes + 3/4 oz. Old Monk rum + 3/4 oz. Rittenhouse rye + 1/2 oz. Bénédictine + 1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Molé Bitters. Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass.