8 of the Best Fall Whiskey Cocktails

Hold the phone you guys! We’re nearly halfway through September; where did summer go? Raise your hand if you didn’t do everything you wanted to this summer (raises both hands). But never fear because pumpkin spice lattes are back and holiday decorations are already donning store shelves. Would this be the right moment to facepalm? But nevertheless, I’m here to bring you glad tidings of the best fall cocktails.

The changing of seasons means a lot of things for a lot of folks, but for me, it means cocktail menus are changing. (And yes, I frequently do ask my favorite bars to tell me when they’ve changed over to fall cocktail menus.) Out is juicy fruit, Frosé, and Sangria, and in is apples, cider, and whiskey. So with the official start of fall just around the corner, I’m sharing what I consider a few of the best fall whiskey cocktails.

Fall Whiskey Cocktail Recipes

Classic Whiskey Cider

  • 2 oz. whiskey

  • .75 oz. maple syrup

  • .75 oz. lemon juice

  • Hard cider

  • Cinnamon

  • Apple to garnish

Any fall whiskey cocktail article without a whiskey cider feels like going to the movies and not ordering popcorn. This is really just your standard fall cider cocktail featuring whiskey and cider balanced with a sweetener, citrus, and autumn spices. You'll make it by adding the whiskey, syrup, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain it into a rocks glass filled with ice and top with hard cider and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Maple Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz. bourbon

  • .5 oz. maple syrup

  • 2 dashes bitters

Anyone who knows me, or has read any of my other cocktail posts, knows that the Old Fashioned is my favorite cocktail. But, I’m no traditionalist, as I’m frequently making alternatives to the OG Old Fashioned cocktail recipe. This classic fall Old Fashioned cocktail substitutes sugar with maple syrup (yes, please). I follow Difford's method of building an Old Fashioned cocktail, which gradually adds ice to reach proper dilution when stirring rather than adding all of it at once. You'll begin by adding a couple ounces of bourbon to a mixing glass with a couple pieces of ice and stirring. After a number of stirs (approximately 10 seconds ), add the maple syrup, bitters, and two more pieces of ice, and continue stirring. Then strain into a rocks glass over ice (I like a big ice sphere), and garnish with an orange twist.

Old Fashioned Spencer Spellman.jpg

Rusty Nail

  • 2 oz. blended Scotch whisky

  • .5 oz. Drambuie

Yes, there are really only 2 ingredients to this cocktail. And yes, it’s impossible to mess it up. Drambuie, a Scotch whisky liqueur, feels like the autumn liqueur, since it's made with honey and other herbs and spices. To make it, you’ll add the whisky and Drambuie to a rocks glass with ice and stir. And that’s it! Cocktail historian David Wondrich uses the measurements I use above, while others recommend a 1:1 ratio.

New York Sour

  • 2 oz. whiskey

  • 1 oz. simple syrup

  • 1 oz. lemon juice

  • .5 oz. dry red wine

The New York Sour cocktail was my first love, and the first cocktail I really learned to make. You may recognize it from Boardwalk Empire, but it’s not a cocktail you see on a lot of cocktail menus. Some people may call it blasphemy, adding wine to a cocktail, but I call it genius. To make this New York Sour cocktail, you’ll make it similar to that of a whiskey sour, adding the whiskey, simple syrup, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake. You'll strain it into a rocks glass filled with ice, and then very gently pour the red wine onto the top of the cocktail by holding the back of a spoon just over the surface of the drink, and pouring the red wine over it, creating a float effect.


Pecan Pie Manhattan

  • 2 oz. pecan-infused bourbon

  • 1 oz. tawny port

  • .25 oz. maple syrup

  • Dash of bitters

  • Cherry for garnish

That's right, pecan-infused bourbon, inspired by renowned cocktail bar Death and Co. To infuse the bourbon, you'll first start with a cup of pecans that you soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain them, and then spread them on a baking sheet, seasoning with a little salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees, but make sure not to burn them. After the pecans have cooled, add them to a large mason jar and fill with a half-bottle of bourbon, sealing the jar and letting it stand for a week. After a week, strain through cheesecloth.

This new take on the traditional Manhattan cocktail recipe replaces the rye with pecan-infused bourbon and vermouth with tawny port. To make it, add the bourbon, port, maple syrup and bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it and strain into a coupe. I'm a firm believer in a traditional Manhattan cocktail being stirred, but for this, I actually liked shaking it for that frothy float on top, making for a great post-dinner libation.


Perry Mason

  • 2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon

  • .5 oz. Falernum

  • .5 oz. Byrrh

  • 3 dashes bitters

  • Splash cranberry juice

  • Lemon peel, for garnish

So this fall whiskey cocktail comes from my friends at Blind Barber, which has locations in Chicago, NYC, and L.A. And yes, they are one of those bars that I ask to tell me when they have a new menu. And this cocktail is on the Blind Barber’s new fall menu at their L.A. locations. While you may not just have a bottle of Byrrh and Falernum lying around your kitchen, they would both up your home bar game, and especially Falernum if you want to learn how to make better tiki cocktails. For this, you’ll add all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, and then stir and strain into a coupe, garnishing with a lemon peel.

Blind Barber.jpg

Whiskey and Bubbles

  • 1 oz. blended single malt whisky

  • 3 oz. champagne

  • Cranberries

Yes, that’s right, whiskey and champagne. It feels a little blasphemous, but if this is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. This is another fall cocktail that’s super simple, but has plenty of hints of fall. To make it, you’ll simply add whiskey and champagne to a champagne flute and then drop in a handful of cranberries. For a little bit more complexity, drop in a couple dashes of orange bitters. Clink clink!

Champagne cocktail.jpg

Buttered Up

  • 2 oz. whiskey

  • .5 oz. maple syrup

  • 1 bar spoon of pumpkin butter

  • .75 oz. lemon juice

  • Egg white from one egg

  • Dash of bitters

  • Grated cinnamon

Screw pumpkin spice, we’ve got pumpkin butter y’all! For this fall whiskey cocktail I use a store-bought pumpkin butter that’s probably closer to that of a jam than traditional pumpkin butter spread. To make it, you’ll add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously (without ice). Then add the ice to the cocktail shaker and shake again for 10 seconds. Finally, strain it into a coupe and sprinkle with cinnamon.

What are your favorite fall whiskey cocktails?