Wine & Spirits: Transitional Tipples

Ease into fall with cocktails that bridge the seasons.


The vodka-based Fumbles & Foliage is herby, spicy and citrus-y. Photo courtesy of Ketel One.

The vodka-based Fumbles & Foliage is herby, spicy and citrusy. (Photo courtesy of Ketel One)

What to drink this time of year? I’m still enjoying a gin and tonic every now and again, but I’m also starting to crave something that speaks a bit more to the evenings’ dipping temps. Enter the transitional tipple. These cocktails have a bit more weight than their summer counterparts with seasonal flavors. But they also retain a lightness and freshness from lighter spirits like vodka or applejack, or because of the addition of citrus juice. These drinks make me love this time of year more than I already do.

Ketel One Fumbles & Foliage
Recipe courtesy of Ketel One
The Fumbles & Foliage is an example of a cocktail that just works best with vodka. A brown spirit would be too heavy for this drink, overpowering the other flavors. Gin would add too much botanical aroma and flavor. For this fall libation, the choice is clear. (This cocktail is also great to mix if you are looking for another use for that bottle of Pimm’s.)

1 ¼ ounce Ketel One Vodka
1 ounce Pimms #1
¼ ounce allspice dram liqueur
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce ginger simple syrup (see note)
Orange slice and sprinkle of nutmeg, for garnish

Combine all except garnish in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled highball glass filled with ice and garnish.

For the ginger simple syrup: Bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat, cool slightly, and add 1-2 large chunks of peeled, sliced ginger. Steep until desired flavor is reached, and then remove the ginger pieces.


The Jack Rose is a great sip to bridge the season from summer to fall. Photo courtesy of Kelly Magyarics.

The Jack Rose is a great sip to bridge the season from summer to fall. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Magyarics)

The Jack Rose
Recipe courtesy of Dale DeGroff
My favorite go-to cocktail this time of year is by far the Jack Rose. Its fresh, simple combination of applejack brandy, lemon juice and grenadine goes down waaaay too easily. This drink is like biting into a tart crisp apple with just a little bit of sweetness. Be sure to use a high-quality grenadine. I like Jack Rudy made in Charleston, which you can purchase locally at Salt & Sundry (owner also shares my affinity for the Jack Rose). There is a recipe right on the bottle, but I am partial to Dale DeGroff’s version which comes from his book The Essential Cocktail. Don’t feel like mixing at home? Not surprisingly, Jack Rose Dining Saloon makes a mean version of the bar’s namesake cocktail.

1 ½ ounces applejack
¾ ounce simple syrup (adjust according to taste)
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce grenadine
Apple slice and/or cherry, for garnish

Add all except garnish into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.



The Brandy Crusta has a striking garnish that is pretty to look at and adds aromatics. Photo courtesy of Kelly Magyarics.

The Brandy Crusta has a striking garnish that is pretty to look at and adds aromatics. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Magyarics)

Brandy Crusta
Classic recipe
The Brandy Crusta has a bunch of my favorite flavors. It was originally made with Cognac, but feel free to substitute brandy or Armagnac. Any grape-based spirit adds complexity without too much body. Here it’s also tempered with fresh orange and lemon juice. Maraschino liqueur gives it a whiff of aromatics while a couple dashes of two kinds of bitters add depth. and Jamie MacBain have a great Brandy Crusta on the menu at Bourbon Steak. Beyond its great flavor, this drink is all about the garnish; take the extra minute or two to cut the lemon peel to the length of the glass for a striking look and gorgeous fragrance.

1 ½ ounce Cognac (or Armagnac or brandy)
½ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce maraschino liqueur
2/3 ounce orange curaçao (or Cointreau or Combier)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
Superfine sugar and lemon slice, for rimming

Rub the outside rim of a stemmed glass with a lemon slice and roll the outside rim in super fine sugar. Cut a large swath of lemon peel and place it inside the rim of the glass so the ends provide pressure on each other.

Place Cognac, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, orange curacao and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake to chill. Strain into the prepared glass, splashing the lemon peel as you pour.

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter or Instagram @kmagyarics.


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