The first day of autumn was Friday, and fall food, fashion and festivities are in full swing. Spirits expert J.R. Starkus and beer guru Samuel Merritt of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits share what they’re looking forward to this season: Starkus said, “Whenever I think about drinking in the autumn, cooler weather, the fireplace and football come to mind. Something about the idea of drinking to stay warm. I really look forward to libations like the Tom & Jerry and spiked hot chocolate!
“In cocktails, however, don’t be shy to use the vodka and rum that you did in the summer. They never go out of season. However, think of including more vermouth and less fresh fruit.” Merritt said, “We’re all geared up for fall here in the beer world. Our attention first goes to the Oktoberfest beers like Sierra Nevada, which is different every year, and Ayinger from Germany, which is malty and very traditional. Pumpkin ales are all released in the fall, and New Belgium Atomic Pumpkin is interesting with a light addition of habanero peppers. The Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is another great go-to pumpkin. We also lean toward darker beers like the quaffable but roasty Brooklyn Brown Ale and New Holland Dragon’s Milk Stout aged in bourbon barrels.”