20 Signature Cocktails Perfect for Your Fall Wedding
If you chose to get married in the fall, you're likely aware of the season's unique advantages. From the earthy color palettes (think rust, copper, and mustard!), to the floral offerings, there are so many pretty elements that are unique to this time of year—and they all make for the loveliest wedding décor. But if you want to pay homage to your date in a smaller way that won't impact your big day's overarching aesthetic, then look towards the bar—specifically, to your signature cocktail. Whether you serve up a spiked hot beverage that keeps out the chill, present a drink the color of rich cognac, or top it all off with an in-season fruit garnish, your fall-inspired sip will surely impress your guests.
To help you choose spirits, flavor notes, toppers, and accents that suit the season, we tapped mixology gurus, Eric Constein, the Bar Manager at Barçon, and Frankie Thaheld, the Director of Mixology at Snake Oil Cocktail Company. Their cocktail expertise will guide you on your search for the perfect autumnal aperitif. The gist of their advice? Stick to smoky, warming spirits (Bourbon is a favorite), in-season flavors (like fig and apples, the two notes in this Pour Girl cocktail!), and cozy spices (think cinnamon and anise) when going over must-haves with your mixologist or bartender.
Still short on creativity? Constein recommends looking to your past and your coziest memories for help. "I'm thinking of bonfires on the lake on a cool fall evening—any of these types of memories can be very helpful when you're feeling stumped," Constein says. It's unlikely, though, that you won't have a few ideas in mind after clicking through the rest of his and Thaheld's advice. Ahead, all of the fall signature wedding cocktail inspiration you'll need.
Spiked Apple Cider
"Fall-inspired cocktails should bring to mind spices and warmth," says Constein. Incorporate both of these tenants into your autumnal signature sip with a classic spiked cider (served warm!). Bonus points if you allow your guests to sip is straight from another fall-forward motif—cored apples.
If you're a vodka fan, let these simple fizzy drinks—a play on the classic vodka-club, with a splash of Prosecco—inspire your own. Constein says to take heed, though, especially since the spirit is a major summer player. "By the time fall rolls around, I feel as though vodka has ran well past its course," he says. "I find it's best to venture into darker and age tested spirits upon the arrival of autumn." Still set on a vodka cocktail? Fall-ify it with a rustic garnish, like this dried bloom.
Mulled White Wine
There's nothing more autumnal than mulled wine—but a white variety is a fun way to deliver the unexpected. In the absence of red's rich, cozy hue, turn to garnishes for seasonality, says Thaheld: "Cinnamon sticks, dried leaves, corn husks, Asian pears, pomegranate arils, and roasted or dried chilis are great for fall cocktail garnishes. We love the garnish game!"
A signature fall fruit, the pomegranate is a common source of cocktail inspiration (we're loving this iteration, which features a sugar rim!). It's no wonder. "Pomegranates make wonderful natural grenadines and add a bright deep hue of color to most drinks," explains Thaheld.
Constein turns to Bourbon when it's time to craft a fall signature cocktail—it's the spirit of the moment. Thaheld is also a fan of the Whiskey family, namely Rye and Scotch Whiskey, when the weather turns. "They have that certain quality that brings to mind a warm palate and evenings by the fire," he says. This sip perfectly embodies the sentiment—with Buffalo Trace, maple syrup, thyme, lemon, and bacon, it's the perfect conglomeration of earthy, smoky notes.
Your cocktail's color is as important as its contents when it comes to seasonality. "It is traditionally harvest time, so the mixologist's color palate ranges from burnt sienna to warm yellow," says Thaheld. Add-ins should also feel timely. "Look at the use of preserved items from the spring or summer such as pickled carrots, brandied cherries, dried citrus, and homemade cocktail jams." This concoction combines the two—it's warm coffee-hue, dried fruit, and rosemary garnish are fall-approved.
Of course, you and your wedding's bartender aren't beholden to the season's rustic hues. An electric blue shade—created with Caraçao, a turquoise-colored orange liqueur—is apt, especially around Halloween.
Speaking of bold cocktail colors and Halloween, this purple sip gives off spooky vibes, thanks to dry ice—a topper Thaheld recommends come October. "Dry ice is a lot of fun, and garnishes that exemplify the day of the dead celebrations are always a win," he says. Searching for a presentation that's more harvest-themed? "Try looking to drinking out of gourds or having cornucopia displays full of fall fruits on your bar."
A seasonal fruit, figs have the ability to transform many a spirit. Try adding a dab of fig jam to Bourbon for an instant, two-ingredient cocktail. And don't forget that fig garish!
Spiced Hot Pear Toddies
If you're planning an outdoor ceremony on a brisk fall day, pre-ceremony hot toddies are a must. Deliver the unexpected, though, by opting for an unlikely flavor—in this case, pear, bolstered with spiced rum, lemon juice, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Incorporate a seasonal spice (like cinnamon sticks!) for a bonus, says Constein: "I enjoy the use of spice—anything from cardamom and clove, to cinnamon and nutmeg."
Warm Fall Day
Don't forget that autumn officially begins at the end of September, which means that your wedding day might not be as chilly as anticipated. If you're getting married towards the beginning of the period (or are getting hitched in a location where it's hot year-round!), a summer-forward sip may suit the occasion. This drink, a frothy mixture of Champagne and St. Germain sorbet, is just right for an unseasonably warm environment, color and all. Just be sure to tie it back to the time of year through presentation—try a coupe (one of Constein's favorite glasses for fall!) and a dried baby's breath garnish.
Looking for a classic drink that's also fall-ready? You can't go wrong with an Old Fashioned.
Blackberries grow and ripen from late spring to early fall, which makes the early autumn months your last call for this sweet yet stormy fruit. Pay homage to its color with a recipe that enhances its inkiness, like this blackberry vodka lemonade, which got its dramatic hue thanks to activated charcoal.
An apple-themed drink (a nod to one of the very best parts of fall) will hit home on your big day. But, you don't want it to hit too hard. "Drinkability and longevity are two concepts I always ask a bride and groom to consider. Is the cocktail a 'one and done' or is it a cocktail you could have a few of throughout the event?" explains Constein. If you want the latter, lighten up a high-ABV apple liqueur (like Schonauer!) with plenty of club soda and a splash of juice.
Try this dried-flower version of the classic Sling—it's lighter and features gin (not brandy!), lavender syrup (that replaces the sugar!), and lemon juice.
Okay, so you can't quit Moscow Mules, even after the summer has ended. Luckily, their rustic presentation—the copper mugs are just part of the sipping experience—help carry these vodka, ginger beer, and lime sips into the next season.
Spicy Hot Chocolate
Dark rum or cinnamon schnapps make a welcome addition to a cayenne hot cocoa, which keeps guests' hands warm when the sun goes down.
It's hard to tell, but this signature sip (by Snake Oil!) is actually more smoothie than cocktail. Work in fall fruits, like pears, pomegranates, and and figs, when recreating your own.
Champagne with a Twist
Sipping on celebratory Champagne on your fine fall wedding day? Add a tiny splash of blackberry juice (it'll turn the bubbly this pretty hue!) and finish with a fruity garnish.