Farm to Bar: 7 Fall Cocktails From Vermont

Drink Lists Cocktails
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Fall has arrived. So as you trade in your flip flops for your flannel, it’s also time to put up those light and fruity summer cocktails for something heartier for the colder months. To get some inspiration, we set our sites on Vermont — the capital of all things autumnal — and spoke with several craft bartenders from around the Green Mountain State to get some recipes guaranteed to warm you up this fall. You won’t find any basic pumpkin-spice martinis here; these are thoughtful, carefully crafted cocktails tailored to reflect Vermont’s localvore, farm-to-table ethic. Enjoy.

Old Fashioned Mill No. 4

vermont old fashioned.JPG
Photo credit: Derek Piette

1 oz. Barr Hill Tom Cat Reserve Gin
1 oz. apple brandy
1 tsp. house-made cinnamon syrup
1 dash apple bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Directions: Combine all ingredients in mixing glass, add ice, and stir approximately 40-50 revolutions. Strain over ice into rocks glass. Garnish with a thick swath of orange and lemon peels; expel the oils from each over the drink for wonderful aromatics.

Bar notes from Sam Nelis of Waterworks Food + Drink in Winooksi, VT

A classic old fashioned is made with any spirit, sugar, bitters, and some sort of citrus essence. Here we have a split base using one of Vermont’s finest spirits, a barrel-aged gin that uses a touch of raw honey. The barrel really caramelizes the botanicals in the gin, and is a great balance to cooler weather. I think this cocktail is the perfect fall/winter sipper because it uses seasonal ingredients like apple and cinnamon, but in a very refined way. It’s not an apple pie bomb; it still pays tribute to the quality spirits. Angostura bitters are also the best bitters for fall because of all its low notes of baking spices.

River Zombie

Photo credit: Derek Piette

1 oz. white rum
1/2 oz. aged rum
1/2 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
1/2 oz. Smith & Cross Rum
1/2 oz. fresh lime
1/2 oz. fresh grapefruit
3/4 oz. fresh pineapple
1/2 oz. house-made cinnamon syrup
1/2 oz. house-made cranberry syrup
Angostura bitters (for garnish)
Mint (for garnish)

Directions: Combine ingredients in a mixing tin, add ice, shake, and strain over crushed ice in a 16-oz. tall glass. Garnish with four to five dashes of Angostura and a hefty mint sprig.

Bar notes from Sam Nelis of Waterworks Food + Drink in Winooksi, VT

This is a play on the Zombie, a classic tiki cocktail. People are starting to figure out that craft cocktails can be delicious, seriously thought out, and still fun. The use of multiple rums at once can bring out different levels of flavor. There is nothing more important than fresh squeezed juices, and fresh pineapple always takes a cocktail to another level. The best part of this cocktail is that it uses seasonal flavors such as cinnamon and cranberry while sticking to a traditionally island beach-style drink. For me, it is a way to get people through the long, scary winter, and remind them that fun times can still be had!

Photo credit: Cameron Keitel; From left: the Autumn Sparkler, Harvest Moon, and Golden Pomme.

Autumn Sparkler

1 oz. Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider
Top with Cava
Lemon twist

Directions: In a champagne flute, pour in the ice cider. Top with chilled Cava. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Harvest Moon

2 oz. Sapling Maple Rye
1/2 oz. Vermont Cranberry Company Cranberry Juice
Splash of Cointreau
4 dashes smoked hop bitters
Citizen Cider
Orange twist

Directions: Over ice in rocks glass, layer the rye, cranberry juice, and Cointreau. Top with cider. Shake on bitters, and squeeze orange twist on top before serving.

Golden Pomme

2 oz. Vermont Gold vodka
1/4 oz. Domaine de Canton
1/2 oz. Eden Ice Cider
4 dashes Pimento bitters

Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake aggressively, and strain into chilled martini glass.

Bar notes from Cameron Keitel & Ashley Wolf from Juniper Bar & Restaurant in Burlington, VT

Whenever we pull together a menu, we’re looking to use local ingredients, and be as farm-to-bar as possible. Autumn always invokes deep hued browns and oranges; tart and crisp flavors like cranberry and sumac, juniper, and apple; and any element of smokiness possible. We especially love ice wines and ice ciders this time of year. Vermont is one of few regions in the world that can actually produce these amazingly deep and rich flavors, and we find they mix into cocktails with a complexity that can add a lot to any drink.

Slam Dunc

Photo credit: Jim Sabataso

1 oz. Dunc’s Mill Maple Rum
1/2 oz. Appalachian Gap Snowfall Whiskey
1/2 tsp Vermont maple syrup
Hot water

Directions: Combine rum, whiskey and maple syrup in a mug, and top off with hot water. Garnish with cinnamon stick and lemon wheel.


Photo credit: Jim Sabataso

2 oz. Casamigos Blanco Tequila
2 oz. Beet juice
4 oz. house made sour mix
1/2 tsp. organic agave
2 lime wedges, squeezed

Directions: Combine ingredients in a mixing tin, and shake for 20 seconds. Rim a 16-oz. tall glass with salt, and fill it with ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with a beet slice and lime wheel.

Bar notes from Karri Barrett with Roots the Restaurant from Rutland, VT

Almost every one of our cocktails, if it doesn’t have a local spirit, has a homemade syrup or fresh, locally-sourced herb that gets muddled into it. When I get into fall, I start about thinking cinnamon and spice. Bourbons and whiskeys are good for this time of year. I also think about color — I want those oranges and reds in there. Being in Vermont, you want to take advantage of apples and ciders, maple syrup. It’s warming.

Jim Sabataso is a writer, part-time bartender, and full-time cocktail enthusiast living in Vermont. Follow him on Twitter @JimSabataso