Late summer ushers in harvest fruits and a signal to slow down. Combine the two with some terrific seasonally inspired cocktails. 

The days are still warm, but a chill creeps in towards evening. We aren’t ready to let go of summer, but fall flavours call.  These recipes will help you look forward to fall even as you seize the last days of summer.

St. Germain Blackberry Fizz

St. Germain Blackberry Fizz

fruity, floral and refreshing

The authors of the Death and Company cocktail books call St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur bartenders’ ketchup, a nod to how essential a staple it has become behind the bar.  It is the perfect, all-purpose liqueur to have on your home bar, too.  One of its attributes is that it plays well with many powerfully flavoured spirits and amari.

In this cocktail, however, elderflower is the star of the show, not a supporting character.  Elderflower is a very summery flavour, coming as it does from the flowers of the elder tree that blooms in June.  You can tip its flavour profile towards something autumnal, earthy and rich, by adding a deep berry flavour.  This preserves the floral brightness of summer and moves into the shadows of the hedgerow fruit. 

This cocktail is light in flavour and alcohol content.  Add 1 oz of vodka if you want to punch up the potency, but beware.  It’s very quaffable and goes down quickly!  

St. Germain Blackberry Fizz

1 1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

six blackberries

1 oz vodka (optional)

soda water

Muddle blackberries well in a cocktail shaker with St. Germain.  Add ice and shake until well chilled.  Double strain into a collins glass filled with ice.  Top with soda water and stir gently.  Garnish with a blackberry.

Autumnal Equinox

Autumnal Equinox- Zirkova

bracing, aromatic and refreshing

Think barns full of hay and long, mellow rays of sunshine, shades of wheat stubble and dried grass.  This cocktail takes the brightness of a vodka tonic and turns it into a mellow refresher.  

This drink relies on the white peppercorn infusion.  It smells like hay.  More than that, it smells like hay in a barn that has been in the sun all day.  It’s not for everyone, but if you like herbaceous and grassy aromas, this is a stunner.   I’ve made this peppercorn infusion many times, and on the basis of loving it and thinking “more is more,” I have made the mistake of leaving the peppercorns in the vodka for days.  Don’t.  Alcohol does a very, very good job of pulling the flavours out of what is infusing in it.  It will become overpowering and unpleasant. 

I used Zirkova Unity vodka for this recipe.  Zirkova Vodka is a Canadian-Ukrainian brand of ultra-premium spirits, created in 2005 and co-founded by Katherine Vellinga.  After the invasion of Ukraine, their Master Distiller, a woman with over 30 years of experience, who had fled the war, was located and brought to Canada to produce Zirkova Unity.  Unity is a collection of 6 unique bottle designs, with artwork created by artists from Canada and Ukraine.  A portion of sales from each bottle sold will be donated to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

Autumnal Equinox

2 oz white peppercorn-infused vodka

1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

tonic water 

garnish with rosemary

To make the white peppercorn infusion, add 1 teaspoon of whole white peppercorns to a clean jar with 4 oz of vodka.  Let it sit on the counter for at least four hours but no longer than a day.  Fine strain out the peppercorns and store at room temperature in a clean jar.  It will make two cocktails.  

Strip the lower leaves of the rosemary stem and muddle in a shaker with vodka and lemon juice.  Shake the vodka and lemon juice in a shaker with ice until chilled.  Strain into a collins glass filled with ice and top with tonic water.  Garnish with rosemary.  

Petrichor Sangria

petrichor cabernet merlot wine

fruity and earthy 

Petrichor is the scent of rain on dry earth.  Think of the smell as the first raindrops hit the sidewalk; think of the chalky texture, the dry tickle of that smell; think of the fizz in the air as rain makes the earth release its aromas. 

Petrichor Wines chose its name to mark its commitment to terroir-driven wines, a connection to nature and a respect for the power of smell.

To make an upscale sangria that would play with the aroma and texture of petrichor, for which this wine is named, I reached for drinks that have the dry, geosmin quality of rain on dry earth.  If you can imagine what beets, hibiscus tea and pomegranate juice have in common in their flavours, that’s the quality I was reaching for.  It’s a sweetly dusty character, perfect for late summer.

The sugar in this recipe is optional, depending on how sweet your pomegranate and cranberry juices are.  Try the mixture first, then add sugar to taste.  

Petrichor Sangria

1 bottle Petrichor Cabernet Merlot wine

1 cup pomegranate juice

1/4 cup cranberry juice

juice of one lemon

1/4 cup sugar, optional

2-3 cups assorted seasonal fall fruits (plums, peaches, apples, pears, blueberries, blackberries all work well) 

1 can soda water

Mix all ingredients except soda and sugar in a pitcher and stir.  Taste to assess sweetness and add sugar to taste.  Refrigerate until well chilled.  Add soda water to pitcher just before serving and stir gently.  Serve over ice and garnish with fruit.

Bacardi Spiced Sour 

Bacardi Spiced Sour

green, boozy

Bacardi Spiced Rum is made with a blend of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Even just on the nose, it’s much deeper than its white counterpart, making it perfect to play with for fall.  To avoid both the pumpkin spice and the Christmas poles of baking spices, I’ve played up the green and peppery flavours that play well with cinnamon.  Inspired by Chinese Five Spice (cinnamon, star anise, fennel, clove and Sichuan pepper), I played up the green components and brightened them all with lime. 

A note on the ingredients: I chose agave syrup as the sweetener because it’s got a deeper character than simple syrup (you can get it at Loblaws!), but you can use simple syrup if you don’t have agave.  Cilantro tastes like soap to some people, so omit it if that’s you or your guests!  You will still get the bright green notes from the fennel.

Bacardi Spiced Sour

1 1/2 oz Bacardi Spiced Rum

3/4 oz lime juice

1/2 oz agave syrup

small handful of cilantro leaves

three slices of fresh fennel

Muddle all the ingredients in a shaker.  Add ice and shake until well chilled and diluted.  Garnish with a frond of fennel leaf.

Amaro Montenegro Dessert Cocktail

Amaro Montenegro Dessert Cocktail

sophisticated, rich and smoky

I wanted to evoke the rich fall flavours of smoke and roasted nuts with this cocktail, while keeping the recipe light. This is your after-dinner coffee in a chilled and sophisticated cocktail.  Amaro Montenegro is complex and rich and can go in so many directions. It is the star of the show, leading the way with richness. Frangelico sweetens the mix and adds the nutty profile. Coffee and chocolate bitters add smoke and spice.

The recipe calls for chocolate bitters.  If you don’t have chocolate bitters, the orange in Angustora bitters will play well with the mix, but do add bitters of some kind. Their role is to marry all the flavours and to give added dimension to the drink.  If you want to see how much of an impact they have, try the cocktail without first.  It will amaze you how much of an impact a dash or two of bitters can make!

Amaro Montenegro Dessert Cocktail

2 oz Amaro Montenegro

1 oz Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur

2 oz chilled coffee

dash of chocolate bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled and serve over a king cube in a rocks glass.


For more recipes, check out our recipes inspired by the farmer’s market and fall flavours.

All images by Libby Roach. 

Please, always drink responsibly and never drink and drive.

This post has been sponsored by Petrichor Wine, we thank them for this beautiful wine! All our opinions are our own and authentic.