Summertime may be Margaritaville, but in the fall, cocktail lists around the city get inspired. At the Ritz-Carlton Hotel downtown, the Greenhouse offers not only afternoon tea, but a series of autumn-inspired libations.
"We try to incorporate fresh ingredients, fruits and vegetables, spices, to make the drink menu set apart from the rest, and just a little more exciting," said Katie Godwin, Ritz-Carlton Greenhouse.
Their Spicy Pear cocktail begins with a slice of fresh jalapeno, plus fresh lime juice and Rose's lime juice, all muddled together in the bottom of a glass. Some pear-flavored vodka is added, along with simple syrup - that's equal parts sugar and water - and ice. A good shake.. and the drink is poured into a martini glass. Their Pilgrim's Punch begins with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, plus a shot each of dark rum and spiced rum. A little cranberry juice adds tart sweetness and ice chills everything down. After a good shake, it's ready to pour and enjoy.
"We heard a story about pilgrims and rum and drinking it on their way to the New World, so that was the inspiration," said Godwin.
Bridget Albert is also serious about seasonal cocktailing. As the Master Mixologist for Southern Wine and Spirits, she's written a book on the subject, entitled, "Market Fresh Mixology." We caught up with her at Cru Cafe and Wine Bar in the Gold Coast.
"You can take some of your fresh produce from this season, and integrate it into some of your favorite classic cocktails, like the Sidecar, for instance, or the Tom Collins," said Bridget Albert, Southern Wine & Spirits.
Sidecars traditionally have cognac, triple sec and fresh lemon juice. Albert adds a few muddled figs to hers, as well as a pinch of cinnamon sugar, to keep it more autumnal. She also uses seasonal fruit - like apples - combining vanilla vodka and pomegranate liqueor with apple juice, then shaking and serving it in a hollowed-out apple for a real presentational flourish.
"I think it's a really fun cocktail to surprise your guests with at home, for sure, nobody expects a cocktail to be served in a piece of fruit," said Albert.
In addition to Bridget's new book on mixology, another book has just hit the shelves -- "The Essential Cocktail" by legendary mixologist Dale Degroff. It contains everything you'll need to know to mix the perfect drink this holiday season.
Greenhouse at the Ritz-Carlton
160 E. Pearson St.
Cru Cafe & Wine Bar
25 E. Delaware Pl.
"Market Fresh Mixology"
by Bridget Albert
"The Essential Cocktail"
by Dale DeGroff