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Photo: Trummer's on Main

Seasonal Sips: Bartenders' Fave Fall Ingredients

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As farmers' markets swap out peaches and tomatoes for apples and squash, and restaurant menus become dotted with dishes that eschew grilling and searing for braising and roasting, mixologists' thoughts also turn to what they have shaking for sweater weather. Eater asked area bar stars where they are finding their inspiration this season (think dark spirits, baking spices and fall produce). Here's a little preview of what you'll be seeing in your glass.
—Kelly Magyarics

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Columbia Room

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“I tend to drink seasonally, and as the fresh herbs and lighter flavors of summer fade away, I switch to drinks with a bit more weight to them,” says head bartender Matt Ficke. He likes to match his drinks to what’s growing, so when apples from local orchards start showing up at markets, he reaches for the apple brandy. “French Calvados is very elegant; the excellent 100 proof Straight Apple Brandy made by Laird’s is a more brash and powerful American version.” For his Apple Brandy Sazerac ($17), he uses Daron Calvados along with Absinthe and lemon. “Apple brandies have a wonderful and intense fire to them,” he notes. “Perfect for a cool evening.” [Photo:Baltasara Campos]

Bourbon Steak Washington DC

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“I like playing with chocolate in the fall,” says mixologist Duane Sylvestre. “It works well with spices, so it’s a natural fit for fall when we use more spices in our drinks.” His new drink Death by Chocolate ($17) is a combination of vanilla vodka , crème de cacao, Bénédictine, cream and egg yolk, garnished with shaved chocolate. Though he admits he doesn’t eat a lot of the sweet treat, the way guests respond to it inspired Sylvestre to create something chocoholics will crave. “When you say the word chocolate, eyes light up and the smiles come out, and that’s always a very gratifying reaction.”

barmini

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ThinkFoodGroup cocktail innovator Juan Coronado is digging the earthy flavor of toasted barley this fall. He’s using it as barley water in the Poor Man’s Pretension ($14). “We wanted to recreate a beer, but in a cocktail format. Barley is a very earthy ingredient that ranges from granola to malted flavors.”

Mockingbird Hill

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Head bartender Chantal Tseng thinks sweet Vermouths “are full of fall spices, and blend so well with Sherry as well as the darker spirits—rum, Bourbon, rye, aged Tequilas. I love them on their own, and blended.” Mockingbird Hill carries several, including Cocchi Americano, Dolin Rouge and VYA; the latter is served over large ice, cut with siphoned soda and garnished with a half orange slice ($7). One of Tseng’s favorite Vermouth cocktails is the Old Hickory ($9, pictured), with equal parts dry and sweet vermouths, served over ice with Peychaud’s and orange bitters, and a dash of maple syrup. [Photo:Baltasara Campos]

“Star anise is always the first ingredient [I use] when fall hits,” declares Todd Thrasher, which is fragrant and more exotic than other baking spices. For his The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree cocktail ($13), he combines the aromatic pods with apples, orange peels, cloves, maple syrup, Chairman’s Reserve Spiced rum and honey maple mead.

Trummer's on Main

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“I grew up in a state in Austria where the world famous pumpkin seed oil comes from,” explains owner Stefan Trummer. When he came to the United States and tried pumpkin pie, he liked the big orange orbs even more. His Pumpkin Cocktail uses a house made pumpkin cider with baking spices and Virginia honey, Flor de Cana Rum, a winter spice syrup and lime; the sip is garnished with marshmallow fluff. “For me, pumpkin is the perfect fall ingredient. It is so versatile; you can add a lot of different flavors and use different techniques to process it.”

The Passenger

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Bartender Alex Bookless likes using cider (the boozy kind) in the cooler weather, both on its own and as a cocktail ingredient. “Ciders really add an interesting element to classic drinks,” she muses. “You have your traditional ciders that are dry and yeasty, but people are also doing cool things with meads, and adding fruit juices or hops into the cider.” Her Valkyrie cocktail is a riff on the traditional gin fizz, with egg white and a dash of Campari; B. Nektar’s Black Fang mead stands in for the traditional soda water. “It’s tart, frothy and interesting.” [Photo:Baltasara Campos]

2941 Restaurant

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Sommelier and wine director Jonathan Schuyler is a native upstate New Yorker, who finds nostalgia in the aroma of fresh apples in the fall. He has loved using Shrub & Co.’s Tart Apple Shrub, which he calls “a sweet and tart mixture made from a combination of Braeburn and Jonagold apples that captures the essence of autumn beautifully.” The Upstate ($12) mixes it with rye whiskey, Cardamaro and Bitterman’s Tiki Bitters, garnished with a flamed orange peel. “The real joy of this drink is the interplay between the sweet burnt aromas of flamed orange, the peppery caramel flavors of rye whiskey and the tangy fresh apple and spicy earthy tones of the cardamom and raisins.”

Columbia Room

“I tend to drink seasonally, and as the fresh herbs and lighter flavors of summer fade away, I switch to drinks with a bit more weight to them,” says head bartender Matt Ficke. He likes to match his drinks to what’s growing, so when apples from local orchards start showing up at markets, he reaches for the apple brandy. “French Calvados is very elegant; the excellent 100 proof Straight Apple Brandy made by Laird’s is a more brash and powerful American version.” For his Apple Brandy Sazerac ($17), he uses Daron Calvados along with Absinthe and lemon. “Apple brandies have a wonderful and intense fire to them,” he notes. “Perfect for a cool evening.” [Photo:Baltasara Campos]

Bourbon Steak Washington DC

“I like playing with chocolate in the fall,” says mixologist Duane Sylvestre. “It works well with spices, so it’s a natural fit for fall when we use more spices in our drinks.” His new drink Death by Chocolate ($17) is a combination of vanilla vodka , crème de cacao, Bénédictine, cream and egg yolk, garnished with shaved chocolate. Though he admits he doesn’t eat a lot of the sweet treat, the way guests respond to it inspired Sylvestre to create something chocoholics will crave. “When you say the word chocolate, eyes light up and the smiles come out, and that’s always a very gratifying reaction.”

barmini

ThinkFoodGroup cocktail innovator Juan Coronado is digging the earthy flavor of toasted barley this fall. He’s using it as barley water in the Poor Man’s Pretension ($14). “We wanted to recreate a beer, but in a cocktail format. Barley is a very earthy ingredient that ranges from granola to malted flavors.”

Mockingbird Hill

Head bartender Chantal Tseng thinks sweet Vermouths “are full of fall spices, and blend so well with Sherry as well as the darker spirits—rum, Bourbon, rye, aged Tequilas. I love them on their own, and blended.” Mockingbird Hill carries several, including Cocchi Americano, Dolin Rouge and VYA; the latter is served over large ice, cut with siphoned soda and garnished with a half orange slice ($7). One of Tseng’s favorite Vermouth cocktails is the Old Hickory ($9, pictured), with equal parts dry and sweet vermouths, served over ice with Peychaud’s and orange bitters, and a dash of maple syrup. [Photo:Baltasara Campos]

PX

“Star anise is always the first ingredient [I use] when fall hits,” declares Todd Thrasher, which is fragrant and more exotic than other baking spices. For his The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree cocktail ($13), he combines the aromatic pods with apples, orange peels, cloves, maple syrup, Chairman’s Reserve Spiced rum and honey maple mead.

Trummer's on Main

“I grew up in a state in Austria where the world famous pumpkin seed oil comes from,” explains owner Stefan Trummer. When he came to the United States and tried pumpkin pie, he liked the big orange orbs even more. His Pumpkin Cocktail uses a house made pumpkin cider with baking spices and Virginia honey, Flor de Cana Rum, a winter spice syrup and lime; the sip is garnished with marshmallow fluff. “For me, pumpkin is the perfect fall ingredient. It is so versatile; you can add a lot of different flavors and use different techniques to process it.”

The Passenger

Bartender Alex Bookless likes using cider (the boozy kind) in the cooler weather, both on its own and as a cocktail ingredient. “Ciders really add an interesting element to classic drinks,” she muses. “You have your traditional ciders that are dry and yeasty, but people are also doing cool things with meads, and adding fruit juices or hops into the cider.” Her Valkyrie cocktail is a riff on the traditional gin fizz, with egg white and a dash of Campari; B. Nektar’s Black Fang mead stands in for the traditional soda water. “It’s tart, frothy and interesting.” [Photo:Baltasara Campos]

2941 Restaurant

Sommelier and wine director Jonathan Schuyler is a native upstate New Yorker, who finds nostalgia in the aroma of fresh apples in the fall. He has loved using Shrub & Co.’s Tart Apple Shrub, which he calls “a sweet and tart mixture made from a combination of Braeburn and Jonagold apples that captures the essence of autumn beautifully.” The Upstate ($12) mixes it with rye whiskey, Cardamaro and Bitterman’s Tiki Bitters, garnished with a flamed orange peel. “The real joy of this drink is the interplay between the sweet burnt aromas of flamed orange, the peppery caramel flavors of rye whiskey and the tangy fresh apple and spicy earthy tones of the cardamom and raisins.”

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