Winter 2018


One way to take the chill off this season is to try a new fall cocktail.

Area bartenders and distillers have been rolling out old favorites and new and experimental creations this season. Here are some they’ve shared that you can make yourself.

Hayden’s Fall

Needle & Pin’s Facebook and Instagram posts could make even a non-cocktail person thirsty. Earlier this fall, the Dormont “gin/craft cocktail bar & modern eatery” teased its new cocktail menu with some gorgeous off-the-menu fall drinks. Then they dropped the big news: Needle & Pin would close and reopen in the same spot as Jean Louis Parisian Bistro and Cocktail Bar.

One Facebook fan wrote: “Keep making killer cocktails, please.”

The restaurant’s response: “We will be!”

Lead bartender Derek James cooked up this super seasonal drink with Basil Hayden bourbon.

“It’s my go-to when I’m out having a Manhattan on the rocks,” he said. For added fall flavor, he wanted just a hint of pumpkin and found that Shipyard Brewing’s pumpkin ale worked perfectly. “It also helps balance the sweetness for those who don’t want a syrupy sweet fall cocktail.”

1½ ounces Basil Hayden bourbon

1¾ ounces apple cider

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce apple cinnamon tea-infused Demerara syrup

2 dashes smoke bitters

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice.

Shake hard for 10 seconds

Open shaker and add:

Small pieces chopped apple

3 ounces pumpkin beer (preferably Shipyard Brewing Co. Pumpkinhead)

Pour into a highball glass and add ice.

Garnish with toothpicked-together apples slices and a thyme sprig.

Apple Cider Mule

The Modern Cafe has been pouring shots and beers on Pittsburgh’s North Side since Prohibition ended in 1933, but recently has been adding more cocktails to the mix. Nothing too frou-frou, mind you. One bartender has a thing against muddling. Bartender Kim Gardner keeps it simple with this drink. But as she sets the copper mug down on the copper bar, she says, “It’s good with lime in it” as she slides you a slice.

2 ounces vodka

splash of apple cider

dash of cinnamon

dash of honey simple syrup

6.8-ounce bottle of Fever-Tree ginger beer

In a mule mug, stir together vodka, cider, cinnamon and simple syrup to combine.

Pour in ginger beer. Fill with ice.

Garnish with apples slices and serve with a slice of lime.

Toasted Shochu Old Fashioned

Alec El, beverage director at Yuzu Kitchen in Downtown, offers this not old-fashioned cocktail, which he believes he may have invented simply by substituting a Japanese spirit made with toasted barley for whiskey in a classic, approachable drink.

1 Demerara sugar cube

3 dashes Angostura bitters

2 dashes orange bitters

splash seltzer

2 ounces Kintaro toasted barley shochu

orange peel for garnish

The directions in his words:

“Build this drink in a rocks glass. Add the sugar cube, then the bitters, then a splash of seltzer water to help the muddling of the sugar. Then add the shochu, add ice and stir about 10 revolutions. Add a bit more ice because the previously used ice would have dissolved a bit. Garnish with an orange peel.

Space Campfire

Carnegie’s Quantum Spirits added to its vodka and gin lineup earlier this year by releasing a barrel-rested gin, the first in its “Experimental Series.” They sampled it as they officially opened their new pop-up kiosk at Terminal B at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

At the distillery’s Triple Point tasting room, they use the slightly brown gin in various drinks, including a new-fashioned Old Fashioned (see bonus recipe) and this more elaborate drink, also featuring Ancho chili simple syrup.

2 ounces Quantum Spirits barrel-rested gin

1 ounce brewed black tea

½ ounce Ancho chili simple syrup (see below)

Combine ingredients.

Stir with ice until chilled.

Strain into a rocks glass with a king-size ice cube.

Garnish with a Luxardo maraschino cherry.

For Ancho chili simple syrup:

Mix 3½ ounces each of turbinado sugar and water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Float 1 dried ancho chili in the pot for 30 minutes. Strain into a container and cool.

BRG Old Fashioned
Bonus Quantum Spirits recipe

Sarah and Ryan Kanto call this their “favorite tipple for converting ‘non-gin-drinking’ whiskey lovers.”

2 ounces Quantum Spirits barrel-rested gin

¼ ounce Ancho chili simple syrup (see Space Campfire recipe)

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients.

Stir with ice until chilled.

Strain into a rocks glass with a king-sized ice cube. 

Garnish with orange peel. 

Hot Buttered Bourbon

You’ve heard of hot buttered rum? The folks at Liberty Pole Spirits in Washington, Pa., decided to try their own spin on that classic recipe. They really liked it and are putting it back on their Meetinghouse menu this season. They warn that this warm drink can quickly get you “in your cups,” a Whiskey Rebellion-era description for having had too much to drink.

2-ounce chunk Butter Batter (recipe follows)

2 ounces Liberty Pole Spirits bourbon

boiling water

pat of butter for garnish

Place Butter Batter in a mug.

Add bourbon and fill mug with boiling water.

Stir until batter melts completely.

Garnish with a pat of butter.

For Butter Batter:

1 stick butter at room temperature

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

pinch salt

Beat ingredients until light and fluffy.

Turn batter out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log slightly bigger than a stick of butter.

Refrigerate until firm enough to slice like butter.

Bob Batz Jr.:, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.