Pumpkin spice’s time has come. A couple weeks back, the Chicago Tribune suggested that pumpkin spice, seated comfortably atop of the ruins of other autumn flavors, may soon topple and meet a long overdue end. But what will replace it?
Maple will. Specifically, maple syrup.
Starbucks has come out with a maple pecan latte, the Tribune notes. The article continues: “Mentions of maple as a flavor in nonalcoholic beverages on menus are up 86 percent this year over last, according to data from Technomic’s MenuMonitor, which tracks trends across chains and independent restaurants.” And as maple mentions rise, pumpkin mentions have fallen by 20 percent.
But let’s talk about what really matters: What will bartenders will be stirring into our drinks this fall? In honor of the impending maple takeover, here are four ways to mix it into your next cocktail.
Head bartender Matty Clark at Dutch Kills Bar in Long Island City uses three words to describe the Signal Fire cocktail: “Bitter, sweet, and smoky.” When he was creating the rum and scotch drink for last fall’s menu, he reached for the maple syrup to bring out flavors of molasses in the rum. Plus, maple and scotch just work together.
The drink is reminiscent of sitting next to a warm fireplace, Clark says—or getting marooned and hoping smoke signals will save you. “I thought about being stranded on a desert island with a bottle of rum and setting up a fire to try and get rescued,” he says of its name. Cheers to a safe journey home.
- ¼ oz. Grade A maple syrup
- ¼ oz. Laphroaig 10 Year Old Scotch
- ¾ oz. Salers Gentiane
- 1 ½ oz. Black Strap rum
- 1 cherry
Mix the ingredients together (besides the cherry), pour into a glass, and add ice. After giving it a quick stir, garnish with a cherry.
Last fall, Shaun Dunn of NoMad Bar in New York crafted a whiskey-based cocktail to showcase maple notes—like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, with a twist. The En Maison is a bit nutty, with a tinge of spice, rounded out by Angostura bitters mixed with cold brew coffee.
“It’s definitely a little bit rich,” says Dunn. “It’s great for when it gets cold outside.” As brisk winds roll in, warm up with this drink.
- 6 dashes of cold brew coffee-infused Angostura bitters
- 1 tsp. verjus
- (a bit less than) ½ oz. Crown maple syrup
- ½ oz. rye whiskey
- ¾ oz. Amontillado sherry
- 1 oz. Suntory Toki Japanese whisky
- pinch of sea salt
First, the bitters. Make a one-to-one ratio blend of cold brew coffee and the bitters, mix, and put it into a dasher. Then, build the cocktail with every ingredient but salt, add ice, and stir for 20 seconds. Serve in a glass with a pinch of salt.
Scottish Spice Trail
Being in the Windy City this fall may leave you numb—or hankering for a drink. Head to the newly opened Beatnik cocktail bar and restaurant, for which bar director Jacyara de Oliveira and beverage director Liz Pearce created the Scottish Spice Trail cocktail. It has the smokiness you’d expect from whiskey, but with notes of citrus for a tropical feel.
“It’s a pretty simple variation on a whiskey sour at the end of the day, but with a ton of depth to it,” says de Oliveria.
Add the maple in, and drinkers may feel right at home. “I don’t know if it reminds people of pancake breakfasts, but it seems to be a really comfortable flavor for people,” says Pearce.
- 1 oz. Auchentoshan American Oak Scotch
- ¾ oz. Great King Street Glasgow Blend whisky
- ¼ oz. Giffard banana liqueur
- ¾ oz. lemon juice
- ½ oz. Grade B maple syrup
- ½ oz black sesame seeds
- 2 dashes Bar Keep five-spice bitters
Shake ingredients for roughly 10 seconds and serve in a cocktail coupe.
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Such is the case with this cocktail. Ian McManus had some friends over for a basketball game and needed to make them drinks. With no other options for a sweetener, he gave maple syrup a whirl. It worked. He began serving it to customers at the recently opened Trademark & Copyright in San Francisco.
“I wanted to make a drink that was, in the words of my boss, something that I’d want to drink pitchers of,” says McManus.
- 2 oz. Kikori Japanese whisky
- 1 ½ oz. guava nectar
- ½ oz. maple syrup
- ½ oz. lime juice
- 1 to 2 dashes of Fee Brothers black walnut bitters
- 1 dash of spice mixture
First, the spice mixture. McManus recommends taking a handful of Thai or Bird’s Eye chiles and putting them in a mason jar with 8 oz. of a neutral grain spirit. Place the jar in a dark area for 10 to 14 days, and shake it occasionally.
Then, build the cocktail. Shake for about eight seconds. Double strain into a martini glass or cocktail coupe.