It’s a rare day in Miami when the temperature dips below 60 degrees, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate autumn like some scarf-wearing New Englander. Our advice? Skip the pumpkin spice lattes and embrace the season from the bar. Master mixologists at some of the city’s finest lounges incorporate cold-weather produce into a variety of creative concoctions, and sampling them is a great excuse for a fun date. Here, listed by the food that defines them, are five cocktails that will get you in a fall frame of mine, even if it’s sweltering outside.
Apples: Dem Apples at Blackbird Ordinary
There is nothing average about sleek, red-hued bar Blackbird Ordinary, especially not its ingenious cocktail list. To make Dem Apples, bartender Thomas Merolla infuses Maker’s Mark bourbon with Apple Jacks cereal (really), pours it into a squat old fashioned glass, and stirs in sugar and black walnut bitters. He garnishes the drink with a swizzle stick that’s harpooned through a dozen Apple Jacks. It’s a wonderfully weird blend of grownup and playful, and the perfect thing to enjoy when you’re lounging in one of the bar’s plush leather booths. Take a sip, then ask your date the question you’ve been holding in all this time: “How do you like Dem Apples?”
Grapefruits: Hemingway Daiquiri at Regent Cocktail Club
Ernest Hemingway once said, “If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.” If you want to know about the regal side of Miami, you have to have a drink at the Regent Cocktail Club in the Gale Hotel. With its long booths, chunky wood paneling, and freestanding coat racks, you and your date will feel like you’re at an intimate, posh house party. This autumn, order a glass of the citrusy Hemingway Daiquiri, a classic cocktail named after its biggest fan. (Hemingway supposedly drank six of these every day, which we do not recommend.) The drink includes Bacardi heritage rum, fresh Florida grapefruit juice, lime juice, and Maraschino liqueur.
Beets: Beet It at Morimoto South Beach
The glamorous Morimoto South Beach only opened in September and is already serving hundreds of people every night. The Iron Chef’s food is light — lots of raw fish — and so are the drinks, with a big emphasis on Japanese sake. But at least one of his cocktails is based on a hearty root vegetable. Beet It is a playful mix of beet-infused Belvedere vodka, ginger syrup, and lemon. Served in an elegant coupe for delicate sipping, the deep crimson drink is excellently refreshing for those temperate autumn nights.
Maple Syrup: Maple Old Fashioned at Meat Market
Meat Market steak house only serves the freshest of ingredients. The menu can change by the season, by the week, or even by the day – so you know their fall cocktails are going to be good. This year, they are giving the old fashioned a flannel makeover. The classic cocktail is made with rye whiskey, bitters, and sugar. The Meat Market Maple Old Fashioned is made with Spring44 Straight Bourbon, Bittermens spiced cranberry bitters, and maple syrup, served on the rocks with an orange twist. It’s like the Adirondacks in a glass.
Cranberries: Grand Dad’s Breakfast at Radio Bar
Drinking at Radio Bar feels like drinking in your grandparent’s basement game room — in a good way. The 1950s throwback bar is sprinkled with mismatched barstools, transistor radios, vintage books, and a pool table. For autumn, bartender Bryan Canales came up with a fun cranberry drink called Grand Dad’s Breakfast. The cocktail is made with Old Grand-Dad bourbon, cranberries, orgeat (almond syrup) infused with Fruity Pebbles cereal (more cereal — it seems to be a trend), and an apple-flavored soda reduction. It’s served over ice and garnished with a slice of orange and lots of fresh mint. The name of the drink doesn’t exactly say “date night,” but it’s so tasty, neither of you is likely to complain.