It's officially fall, which means that bars and restaurants have stowed away the blender and sangria pitchers to make room for festive cocktails and autumnal beer debuts. From malty ales to sassy, bourbon-spiked concoctions, these eight fall sippers are packed with flavor, spice and everything nice — and ideal for the coming months of brisk breezes, rustling leaves and Thanksgiving celebrations.
Holiday in Cranbodia from Cho77
Sure, the name — a play on "Holiday in Cambodia," a punk tune from The Dead Kennedys — is cheeky and clever, but Cho77's Holiday in Cranbodia cocktail hums to a far more breezy beat. Perfect for leaf-peeping season, it's an easygoing blend of organic vodka, simple syrup and autumnal cranberry sauce (a citrus-and-spice combination of fresh cranberries, oranges, cloves and cinnamon) that's finished with a splash of Prosecco and garnished with candied oranges.
42 S. Broadway; 720-638-8179
Ghoul Fuel from Bull & Bush
Every year since 1997, the über-talented brewers at the Bull & Bush have unleashed a beautiful autumn ale to usher in the arrival of fall. This year's Ghoul Fuel, available on draft or in 16.9-ounce bottles stamped with an impish-looking jack-o'-lantern, was brewed with 120 pounds of locally grown pumpkins, which were first roasted and puréed. The result is a malty, copper-hued and lightly hopped ale that, says co-owner Erik Peterson, "pairs really well with turkey." Only 100 cases of the Ghoul Fuel were produced, and it goes fast. Since the brewery sells the bottles to go for $5.99 each, it's worth stocking up: they get even better with age.
4700 E. Cherry Creek Dr.; 303-759-0333
Scary Spice from Rioja
As the brainchild of bartender Katie Lewis, Rioja's stand-out Scary Spice cocktail is the epitome of fall in a glass. Spirit-heavy with fragrant bourbon that's infused with dried figs and plums, it's elevated with a squeeze of lemon, a float of effervescent bubbles and a half rim sprinkled with a mixture of allspice and sugar.
1431 Larimer St.; 303-820-2282
Falling Leaves from The Crown Social
The Crown Social embraces seasonal changes with giddy enthusiasm, and that includes its fall cocktail syllabus, which just debuted last week. It's full of temptations — a maple-cinnamon whiskey cider, an espresso martini, an absinthe cocktail — but our favorite is the Falling Leaves, a layered libation spiked with Leopold Bros. apple whiskey, black walnut liqueur, simple syrup, soda and floating mint leaves. Bonus: everything poured from the bar — beer, wine, spirits and sodas — is a Colorado product.
1446 S. Broadway; 720-353-4701
Decoration Day from Mercantile Dining & Provision
In case you missed the memo, amaro (the bittersweet Italian digestif) is having a moment. And Stuart Jensen, the bar manager at Mercantile, is maximizing the longevity of that moment with his Decoration Day cocktail, which incorporates a trifecta of three distinctly different amaros, plus fresh plum-infused grappa double-charged with nitrogen, vermouth, becherovka (and all the notes of baking spices that go with it) and the caramel flavors of Demerara syrup. "We wanted to create an amaro-based cocktail because the bitter, herbaceous notes are perfect for fall weather," says Jensen.
1701 Wynkoop St.; 720-460-3733
Almond Chai from Racines
It's a well-known fact that warm cocktails are made for nightcaps and campfires, and while we're always up for a hot toddy, we're more excited about the sweet — but not too sweet — almond chai cocktail at Racines, which, really, is ideal for any time of day or occasion. Served in an Irish coffee mug, the steamed chai is spirited with amaretto and crowned with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.
650 Sherman St.; 303-595-0418
Navy Cross from Honor Society Handcrafted Eatery
If you have an affinity for gin, then consider the Navy Cross cocktail at Honor Society, a well-balanced number that combines vegetal hints of Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc with Jamaican rum, walnut liqueur, Calvedos, aromatic housemade angostura syrup and fresh lemon juice. Flecked with grated Ceylon cinnamon, it's a sophisticated, potent and citrusy cocktail that strikes all the right notes for a fall frolic.
1900 16th St.; 720-420-0614
Fall Mule from Blue Island Oyster Bar
More mules are never a bad thing, and at this new Cherry Creek ode to seafood, the bartenders are saluting the arrival of rustling leaves and brisk breezes with a fall-inspired mule that's made boozy with the warmth of St. George spiced pear liqueur and Monopolowa vodka, punctuated with the flavors of fresh vanilla and ginger and finished with a tart hit of lemon.
2625 E. Second Ave.; 303-333-2462