Fall is invariably a period of both literal and figurative transition. As temperatures begin to swing downward and nightfall hits just a bit sooner with each passing calendar day, the halcyon glow of summer often fades into a gnawing urge to re-establish routine in preparation for the cold months ahead. Luckily, there’s a slew of warming cocktails beginning to surface around Portland — ideal for breaking up the monotony of returning to responsible adult living.
Here are five stress-crushing cocktails to seek out this fall, all of which are tailor-fit for tackling that autumn anxiety.
1. Vena’s Fizz House
"A Walk in the Woods"
Murky, mysterious and most certainly haunted, this spirit-driven (get it?) delight is as unique a drink you’ll find in Portland right now. Shroom-infused bourbon, maple, lemon and North Spore chaga mushroom tincture combine for an earthy and complex libation with notes of vanilla, minerals and crushed rock. It’s a ghastly spectacle best served alongside a ghost-pepper driven mocktail called the Maine Fire Fizz, which adds an entirely new dimension to the chaga’s magical cedar-like qualities. | www.venasfizzhouse.com
Forget the aperol spritz that’s been getting you through the heat and humidity — it’s rye time, baby. Nowhere does the spirit shine better than at Chaval, where it provides a stiff base for The Nogal. A darker, sexier take on the classic old fashioned, The Nogal balances a hefty dose of rye whiskey with Italian vermouth, campari and walnut liquor for a slightly medicinal, subtly sweet finished product that deserves to be sipped aside a cackling fire. Woody with rounded edges and notes of candied orange, it’s a show-stopper of a drink. | www.chavalmaine.com
3. Central Provisions
The transition from summer to fall can be experienced at once in Central Provisions Equinox, a bright and lively cocktail that brights to the table the best of what each season embodies. A concoction of blanco tequila, amaro dell'etna, dry vermouth, suze, sea smoke bitters and lemon, Equinox awakens the palate with a pleasant bitterness and dry complexity. Smoky, citrus-driven and dangerously drinkable, it’s sure to smooth things out in times of uncertainty. | www.central-provisions.com
"The Basic Witch"
Playfully self-aware, the Basic Witch at Bramhall answers that pumpkin spice latte question and then some. Spiced rum, averna, a cinnamon/allspice gomme and housemade pumpkin cream hits Starbucks with two middle fingers while somehow resulting in untamed waves of warming spice and Halloween-centric vibes. This is a dessert drink in every sense of the word, but one of the few you’ll encounter that are actually worth ordering. | www.bramhallme.com
You might need to ask for this one off-menu, but it’s worth it. The Midnight Stinger at Lolita on Munjoy Hill is essentially the perfect nightcap, thanks in large part to its simplicity — we’re talking bourbon, Fernet Branca, lemon and simple syrup. It’s set up like a sour, but drinks deep with warm herbal notes from the Fernet. Incredibly well-balanced, there’s simply no better way to cap off a meal in the East End. | 90 Congress St, Portland | www.lolita-portland.com