I love to celebrate special occasions with special cocktails, and let me tell you, these cocktails are special!  Whether you are hosting a crowd for the Thanksgiving weekend, or curling up for a quiet moment, there is something here to fit the mood.

I tried out cocktails made with Northern Keep Vodka and with Diplomático Rum, and they all capture different facets of fall.

Cheers to fall’s bounty and to gathering again with friends and family!

When Canadian distillers Northern Keep sent the recipe for this punch, I was all in.  I love the smokiness of scotch, and in this punch, paired with the orchard sweetness of pear and the savory thyme, you get all of the smoky aroma and none of the medicinal sting.  The first time I made it, I didn’t have pear nectar on hand, so I used what I did have: apple and elderflower juice.  It is divine with both, and makes a perfect fall cocktail.  To smoke the thyme, set it alight, blow it out, put it on a plate, and set the rocks glass over it to capture the smoke in the glass.  Bonus: you can batch this to make prep easier for a crowd.
Smoked Pear Punch
(serves four)
smoky and sweet
4 oz Northern Keep Vodka
1 oz Islay Peated Scotch
5 oz pear nectar
1.5 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 oz honey syrup*
4 sprigs of thyme, slightly smoked, for garnish
Fill a mixing glass with ice and add all your ingredients.  Give it a good stir before straining into a separate pitcher.  Keep this refrigerated until use.
When you are ready to serve, pour into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a sprig of smoked thyme.
*To make honey syrup, combine one part syrup with one part boiled water.  Stir until dissolved.  Wait for the syrup to come to room temperature before use.
Autumn Breeze
Created by Gavin Miller, Diplomático Brand Ambassador
smooth and sophisticated
This is a fantastic Canadian take on Diplomático’s premium sipping rum.  It’s sweet and smooth and sophisticated.  If you haven’t tried a sipping rum before, I do encourage you to try it neat as well as in a cocktail.  It is smooth and boozy and perfect for a cozy fall cocktail.
1.5 oz Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
3/4 oz Amaro
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz maple syrup
Shake and double strain into a coupe or Nick and Nora glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.
Autumn Breeze with Diplomatico Reserva Rum

Autumn Breeze with Diplomatico Reserva Rum

I first created this cocktail for a book club meeting, at which we read Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves.  (The sequel is coming this fall!  Squeee!!)  It is set in the forests of Canada’s north, and to capture that aspect of the setting, I combined the flavour of mushrooms with Ungava gin, made from Canadian arctic botanicals.  It was a huge hit, and it has become an autumn staple.  Make the syrup and tea ahead of time, and you will be stocked for a couple of sessions.
earthy and savory
1.5 oz Ungava gin
1 oz mushroom syrup*
2 oz hawthorn tea**
dash Dandelion & Burdock bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass over ice.
*To make the mushroom syrup, put one cup of dried mushrooms into a small saucepan and just cover with water (about two cups).  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Allow the mixture to cool and the flavours to infuse, then strain.  You should have 1.5 cups of liquid.  Add 3/4 cup of sugar (or the amount you need to get a 2:1 ratio of liquid to sugar) and stir to dissolve.  Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to a week.
**You can find hawthorn tea at a health food store.  Brew three cups of double strength tea.  Allow to cool.  Store in a glass container in the fridge for up to a week.
Hibiscus, like pomegranate juice, has a wonderful earthy background flavour that grounds its sweetness.  In beets, that earthiness comes from geosmin, which is the volatile compound that you can smell in the air after it rains.  In this spin on a traditional sour cocktail, created by Steph Bobey, head bartender at Bar George in Montreal, earthy hibiscus and tart cranberry are perfectly balanced with the brightness of the lime juice.
Berry Abundant
Created by Steph Bobey, head bartender at Bar George in Montreal
fruity and bright
1.5 oz Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
1 oz lime juice
1 egg white
0.75 oz cranberry hibiscus syrup*
Cranberry seed
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice for 30 seconds to froth the egg white.  Add ice and shake again and double strain into a coupe.  Garnish with cranberry seeds.

*To make the cranberry hibiscus syrup, combine 200g dried cranberries, 10g dried hibiscus flowers and 500 ml refined sugar in a saucepan with 500 ml of water.  Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve sugar and let simmer for five minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Fine strain into a clean glass jar or bottle.

Berry Abundant with Diplomatico Reserva Rum

Berry Abundant with Diplomatico Reserva Rum