When summer turns to fall and we feel compelled to relinquish our margaritas and mojitos in favor of drinks that will nurture and warm us, it’s still good to think about what’s in season. Fall is when apples, pears, pomegranates and grapes are at their peak, among many other flavors and ingredients. The flavor of cinnamon symbolizes the changing season, able to magically ignite the senses into feeling warm and calm. It can be the basis of a cocktail or a garnish, a perfect companion to anything apple, and just as effective as a kick-in-the-pants hot hit of spice.
From the bark of a tropical tree, cinnamon is most often ground into powder and used to season stews, rolls and apple pies. In the form of cinnamon sticks, it adds a flavorful twist to apple cider.
In either form, cinnamon has been gaining serious ground in cocktail culture, with Kahlua making Cinnamon Spice versions of its coffee liqueur. There are several varieties of cinnamon schnapps, from Goldschlager (the one with actual gold floating around in the bottle), to one called Firewater.
Whiskey producers add to cinnamon cocktail trend
But cinnamon and whiskey seems to be a particularly popular combination. Early Times last year released Fire Eater, a hot-cinnamon flavored whiskey. Red Hot Cinnamon Flavored Whisky from Canada even comes with a warning.
Spicebox Spiced Whisky, another from Canada, features a blend of differently aged whiskeys, infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, three types of vanilla beans and other spices.
Two whiskey producers have even rumbled legally about the names for their cinnamon-inspired bottlings, with Sazerac Inc., who produces a whiskey called Fireball (with the tagline, “Tastes like Heaven. Burns in Hell”) disliking the name of Hood River Distillers’ SinFire (a “sinful spirit.”).
Staying away from the notion of heaven and hell is the otherwise provocatively named Füchen (pronounced the way you think it would be), a small-batch, savory herbal liqueur made in Denver that tastes of vanilla and cinnamon that can be blended with pineapple juice and grenadine (aka “Füchen Till Dawn”) or Coca-Cola (aka “Sid and Nancy”).
On the rum side is Dancing Pines Distillery’s Spice Rum, infused with whole nutmeg, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick; and Sea Island Spice Rum, made by Firefly Distillery, best enjoyed on the rocks with a splash of lime juice and ginger ale.
Because of autumn’s one-day hot, one-day cold indecisiveness (and our own), we offer several options for optimizing cinnamon’s sometimes sweet, sometimes savory complexion of flavor.
Created by Kyle Ford of Cointreau
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce Mount Gay Extra Old Rum
1 ounce whole milk or heavy cream
1-2 dashes angostura bitters
Dash of cinnamon for garnish
1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
2. Heat like you would a cup of coffee, medium heat for one minute, and stir.
3. Serve hot in a tall martini glass.
4. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.
Created by Evan Faber of SALT Bistro, Boulder, Colo.
1½ ounces spiced rum
¾ ounce black walnut liqueur, such as Dancing Pines
¾ ounce grapefruit juice
dash of Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1. Stir all ingredients with ice.
2. Strain into a coupe glass.
Created by Ali Tahsini of Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco. Averna Amaro is a traditional Sicilian liqueur.
2 ounces cinnamon-spiced whiskey, preferably Spicebox
¼ ounce Averna Amaro
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce maple syrup
½ ounce egg white
1. In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients.
2. Dry shake (no ice) to emulsify the egg white.
3. Add ice and shake again to chill.
4. Strain into a large cocktail glass and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.
Top photo: Autumn Kiss. Credit: Courtesy of Cointreau