While temperatures drop here in the Pacific Northwest, Portland mixologists dream up new ways to showcase seasonal fruit, warm spices and vivid fall flavors. These autumn-inspired cocktails happily provide respite from the dreary days and rainy nights, granting good reason to break from nesting and venture out from underneath that toasty blanket. Pick your poison, from hot buttered bourbon to martinis to fizzy champagne–these libations get influenced by pumpkin, apple, winter spices, maple and citrus, just to name a few. Read the list for several ways to warm up this fall (hint: it’s much more fun than wearing a sweater).
Pumpkin spice chai, aperol, townshend’s spice liqueur, lemon juice, rosemary
This Southeast Hawthorne brunch haven and teahouse dishes up seasonal spins on classic breakfast and lunch fare. Their tea list is fearsome, offering over two dozen varieties from local Townshend’s Tea Company. Those looking for something to give more of a kick to their morning can take comfort in their cocktail list, featuring bloody marys, mimosas and “warmers”–hot, spiced and perfectly spiked drinks guaranteed to take the chill off. The real highlight of the mixed drinks is the unique tea-infused cocktails, such as the Julianne Moore. Let creator and bartender Eddie Hardy happily pour you this seasonal drink that allows you to see pumpkin in a welcoming new light. The Julianne Moore is crafted with pumpkin spice Chai, spiced liqueur, lemon juice and the aperitif Aperol, the reason for the drink’s glowing red hue and shared name with the famous red-head. Cold-brew pumpkin Chai gets elevated by Townshend’s Spice Tea liqueur, a subtly sweet spirit with hints of orange, ginger and cinnamon, brewed right in Portland’s Distillery Row. This refreshing, balanced cocktail gets garnished by a sprig of rosemary (that’s grown right on the restaurant’s patio) and would be even better paired with the delicious cream cheese pumpkin pancake rolls.
The Hazel Room
3279 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Apple brandy, averna, cocchi torino, maple syrup, bitters, lemon peel
Rum Club, known for their tropical drinks and tiki-inspired classics, may be just what we need when temperatures drop below 50. For those looking to transport to a warm tropical island, try the ‘Ti Punch, Weekend at Bernie’s or Under the Volcano. But for those of us that would rather savor in the bittersweet melancholy of a somber Portland autumn, order the Wired Pair. Owner Michael Shea describes this drink as the “perfect fall Manhattan hybrid,” and we agree. Apple brandy, spiced Averna, vermouth, maple syrup and mole bitters marry to devise a smooth, complex cocktail with unexpected notes of deep chocolate, warm spice, aromatic citrus and the right amount of sweetness, thanks to the maple syrup.
720 SE Sandy Blvd
Applejack, lemon, cinnamon syrup, bitters, champagne
There is so much to like at Alphabet District’s Pope House. You don’t have to be a bourbon aficionado to appreciate the lounge, although it sure doesn’t hurt. While Pope House offers one of Portland’s longest bourbon and whiskey lists, it doesn’t discriminate on other spirits. Take the Autumn 75, for example: a sophisticated sparkling cocktail made with Applejack, house-made cinnamon syrup, Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters, lemon and champagne. Bar manager Miles Kusch denotes “assigning fall flavors to a classic” as his inspiration for the French 75 spin-off, garnished with fragrant nutmeg and brimming with winter spice. Sipping this champagne cocktail by candlelight at this historic house-turned-bar will usher you into a different era. Order some of their Southern-influenced fare to pair with it, and perhaps a few shots of bourbon.
Pope House Bourbon Lounge
2075 NW Glisan St
Branch Whiskey Bar’s Hot Buttered Bourbon
Pear, spices, butter, pecan butter, bourbon
The warm drink on the list comes in the form of Northeast Alberta’s Branch Whiskey Bar’s Hot Buttered Bourbon. If this drink doesn’t help you beat the winter blues, nothing probably will. Branch makes it easy to stay cozy with their version of Hot Buttered Rum, which changes seasonally. Although it currently features pear, winter spices and pecan butter, the next version will showcase caramelized pumpkin, agave and brown sugar. Bring a date to this one, sit close to each other and share some split plates. While the butcher boards are something of an art, the prosciutto-wrapped dates are the perfect accompaniment to the buttered bourbon, grilled on fresh rosemary skewers and swimming in sultry bourbon and vanilla bean oil. If you’re lucky, you may get sent home with a duck-fat snickerdoodle as a parting gift.
Branch Whiskey Bar
2926 NE Alberta St
Clear creek pear brandy, gin, rosemary simple syrup & fresh citrus
A long-standing staple on The Observatory’s cocktail menu comes in a martini glass and we can see why patrons like the Rosemary Pear Martini so much. This gin martini gets a tinge of sweetness from local Clear Creek pear brandy and balanced out with earthy rosemary syrup and peppy citrus. Served ice cold and garnished with the woodsy herb, this cocktail is as pleasing to look at as it is to drink. The gem of this drink is the Clear Creek eau de vie, distilled from Bartlett pears grown in Hood River Valley (30 pounds of pears per bottle, to be exact). Hungry? Come to this one for dinner and savor comfort foods sure to equally warm your soul, from the chicken fried chicken with gravy-smothered potatoes to the creamy andouille mac and cheese.
8115 SE Stark St