Wine & Spirits: It’s the Great Pumpkin

by WL Author

Get into the spirit of Halloween with one of these pumpkin-based potent potables.
By Kelly A. Magyarics

SKYY Infusions Ginger's Pumpkin Spice Cocktail

SKYY Infusions Ginger's Pumpkin Spice Cocktail

I heart October: sweater weather, trips to the pumpkin patch, decking out my house for Halloween. And speaking of pumpkins, they are certainly on their share of menus around the District this time of year, in dishes like roasted pumpkin purée, pumpkin and goat cheese ravioli, and of course, umpteen versions of pumpkin pie. But why should chefs have all the fun? Pumpkins are a great ingredient behind the bar, mixing seamlessly with ingredients ranging from dark rum, to ginger, and even coconut milk. They render drinks that are a little bit sweet, a little bit savory, and often seductively spicy. So when you are carving that jack-o-lantern, don’t forget to save some for the shaker!

At Poste Brasserie (555 8th St NW, 202.783.6060) this Saturday and Sunday October 30 and 31, starting at 6:30 PM, Chef Robert Weland will celebrate Halloween with a special “Ghost Roast.” The menu will feature fall faves like Heirloom Pumpkin Soup, Wood Roasted Capretto and a seasonal dessert. Sip on Foggy Ridge Sparkling Hard Cider, Post Road Pumpkin Ale, or the rum-based Linus Cocktail created by Mixologist Rico Wisner. (For more info on the Ghost Roast, contact Stacy Isabella at 202.449.7062.)

“I love the pairing of coconut and pumpkin, which I discovered is a very common combination in Brazil,” explains Wisner. “The drink is named after Linus from ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,’ my favorite holiday special.” The cocktail is sweet without being cloying, and the mixture of coconut milk and pumpkin is both decadent and decidedly unexpected.

Wisner garnishes the cocktail at Poste with a pumpkin cocada, a ball shaped pastry dessert that’s perfect for dipping into the cocktail. It’s just as nice with a little toasted coconut on top, or grated nutmeg.

The Linus
Courtesy of Rico Wisner, Poste Moderne Brasserie
1 ¾ oz. Flor de Cana 7-year rum
2 oz. roasted local pumpkin purée fortified with Bacardi Coco Rum and Allspice Dram (see Note)
½ oz. milk
¼ oz. coconut milk
Toasted coconut or grated nutmeg, for garnish

Mix all ingredients and chill. To serve, strain into a Brandy snifter, and garnish with toasted coconut or nutmeg.

Note: For the pumpkin purée, Wisner uses a ratio of 6 parts pumpkin that’s been roasted in water, brown sugar and Coco Rum, along with 3 parts Coco Rum and 1 part Allspice Dram. Strain before using. Short on time? He says you may be able to use strained canned pumpkin, though it often already contains flavorings and spices that will alter the drink. [I’m sure it will still be quite tasty…you can always play around with spices, to taste.]

Over at Potenza (1430 H Street, NW, 202.638.4444) mixologists Micah and Ari Wilder are featuring a riff on the old Tom and Jerry cocktail. A traditional Christmastime cocktail in the U.S., the Tom and Jerry uses egg whites that are beaten stiff, with the yolks and sugar then folded back in, and vanilla extract added. To serve, a few spoonfuls are added to a mug, followed by hot water and rum. The warming potion is garnished with nutmeg.

Tom and Jerry Pumpkin
Courtesy of Micah and Ari Wilder, Potenza
12 oz. pumpkin stock (cubed pumpkin simmered with water and then strained.)
Cloves, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste
2 cups milk
8 jumbo eggs, separated
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Simmer pumpkin stock with cloves and brown sugar to taste, and 2 cups of milk for 30 minutes, and then strain. Separate egg whites and yolks. In a large mixer beat yolks until creamy. Add the egg whites and the cream of tartar, and then beat until stiff. Add powdered sugar and fold in creamed yolks. Mix until batter is light and fluffy.

For Each Drink:
2 ladles of the egg and pumpkin batter (about 6 oz.)
¾ oz. Appleton Estate Rum
¾ oz. Cognac
2 oz. water
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

In a heated mug add the egg and pumpkin batter, rum and Cognac. Top with 2 oz. hot water and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

Last but not least, from SKYY Infusions Ginger comes the Pumpkin Spice cocktail. This one’s great to mix up in a batch, either for a Halloween party or for a little post Trick or Treating tippling. If you are going to batch it, I would suggest serving it on the rocks since you won’t be getting the dilution that comes from shaking it:

Pumpkin Spice
Courtesy of SKYY Spirits
2 oz. SKYY Infusions Ginger
½ oz. lime juice
1 oz. pumpkin puree
Splash of honey water (See Note)
Slice of fresh ginger, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except ginger slice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Add a long slice of ginger into glass lengthwise for garnish.

Note: Honey water is made using equal parts honey and water, stirred until smooth.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached on her website,, or on

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