Many of the flavors so emblematic of fall — pumpkin, maple and apple, to name a few — are being mixed into seasonal cocktails this year by Austin bars and restaurants. So even when the temperatures outside are fluctuating, we'll still be feeling the spirit of the season inside. Here's where to drink this month.
The Brewer's Table, 4715 E. Fifth St.
This restaurant and brewery that puts so much focus on the argument that food and beer are equals at the table has good cocktails, too. The one to order this fall even has beer in it: Didn’t Order This features Junipero Gin, locally made amico amaro, lemon, bitters and the Brewer's Table Bulk Repeater. The kvass-style beer, made with sourdough bread scraps, perhaps best epitomizes what the Brewer's Table aims to do: demonstrate the beautiful similarities of food and beer.
Cannon + Belle, 500 E. Fourth St.
These days, hotel bars must contend with the tricky alchemy of being both versatile and cutting-edge, to satisfy a variety of tastes. Cannon + Belle inside the Hilton Austin is able to pull it off thanks to its range of cocktails, including a couple of barrel-aged options that showcase both gin and whiskey. But for an evening pick-me-up, go with the Austin Iced, containing TX Blended Whiskey, Little City Cold Brew Coffee, (512) Pecan Porter, demerara syrup, heavy cream and black walnut bitters.
Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden, 121 Pickle Road
The boozy coffee drinks are always an option here, but the South Austin cafe also created a seasonal cocktail that should be pretty hard to pass up. The appropriately named Autumn Harvest features rye whiskey, hand-pressed Honeycrisp apple juice, black walnut bitters, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and fresh rosemary harvested daily from Cosmic's on-site garden. Crisp and tart, it's "balanced with a nutty maple sweetness and hint of spice," according to a Facebook post about the new offering.
Craftsman, 2000 E. Cesar Chavez St.
The powder-blue bungalow bar might be optimistic each fall when it releases a small menu of hot drinks, but there's nothing wrong with thinking positively about the chance of cold weather in Texas — especially when the cocktails are so good. Owner Brandon Testa's personal favorite is the Hot Buttered Rum, and "it's definitely the most unhealthy, too," he says. He's right about that: Craftsman's version has butter, vanilla ice cream, Gosling's Black Seal Rum, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and a topper of homemade whipped cream.
Drink.Well, 207 E. 53rd St.
Tiki cocktails can get the fall treatment with the right ingredients, as demonstrated at this North Loop watering hole. One of the bartenders there aptly describes the Cacao-a-Bunga, Dude! as epitomizing "a chocolate-covered banana," thanks to a mixture of Drink.Well's house rum blend (Appleton Reserve, Rhum JM Blanc and Plantation OFTD), dark cacao, Giffard coconut, fresh pineapple, Jagermeister and blackstrap bitters. Oh, yes, that cacao comes through nicely.
Oasthouse Kitchen & Bar, 8300 N. RM 620
It's the perfect way to acknowledge fall in this southern state: Oasthouse's S'more What (with Stolen Smoked Rum, matcha tea, coconut milk and coconut palm simple syrup) comes in frozen form. This season is also the time to bring out all the barrel-aged spirits, and the Patrick Star cocktail, named by one of the bartenders at the seasonally focused Northwest Austin restaurant, showcases its single-barrel version of Tres Agaves Reposado Tequila brilliantly alongside Campari, lemon, turbinado simple syrup and mole bitters.
Picnik, 4801 Burnet Road
The brick-and-mortar location of this popular paleo-friendly eatery has cocktails that stay true to its wholesome, good-for-you credo — even indulgent sweets treats like a White Russian. Picnik's health-minded take is made with house-made coffee liqueur, potato vodka, Picnik's Butter Coffee Creamer and a maple sugar and coffee rim. The creamer, a new Picnik product, is sugar-free and made with grass-fed butter and grass-fed whey, so go ahead and feel good about sipping on your liquid dessert.
Seven Grand Austin, 405 E. Seventh St.
Focused entirely on whiskey, the regal Los Angeles transplant bar is pretty much tailor-made for these cooler months. Seven Grand's extensive whiskey selection (some of which is only accessible via ladder) is worth exploring neat, but if you'd prefer a cocktail, the fall menu has nice warming options, too. Case in point is the Viking Roar, a double whiskey variation on the classic Old Fashioned with Highland Park Magnus Scotch, Rebel Yell Bourbon, simple syrup and Aztec chocolate and mole bitters.
Spin Austin, 213 W. Fifth St.
A pingpong club with seasonal drinks worthy of a serious cocktail bar? We're in. Spin Austin, which opened this spring in a former Antone's location, has something for every palate under the sun (or, we're hoping, cloudy sky), but the Bird is a solid shot for anyone, with Don Julio Tequila, Aperol, lime, agave syrup, pomegranate juice and sage. Late fall is peak season for pomegranates, a ruby red-colored fruit that is packed with antioxidants and adds a nice tart pop to drinks.
Whisler's, 1816 E. Sixth St.
Get cozy with a cocktail within the 100-year-old stone walls of this East Austin bar. You'll have a range of seasonal drinks to choose from, but your best bet is the Sleepy Hollow. With bourbon, pumpkin shrub, maple and coconut milk, it's about as quintessentially autumnal as Texas can hope for, especially given what's in the shrub. Ingredients including cinnamon, cardamom, pumpkin puree and grated ginger contribute the nice spiced elements we've come to love in our seasonal beverages this time of year.