Tap That Sap: 13 Amazing Maple Cocktails

As winter announces its overdue presence and maple harvest time looms, we yearn for maple syrup more than ever. We pour it on pancakes, use it to glaze bacon for our burgers, and drizzle it over snowball-sized scoops of ice cream. However, there’s no place we like it more than at the bar. That’s because the amber liquid has a rich, deeply flavorful sweetness, which works well to mellow out liquor’s sharper tones. Here are 13 amazing maple cocktails.

Charcut, Calgary, Canada
Bar manager Mackenzie Oullette has fond childhood memories of making lollipops by pouring boiling maple syrup into the snow. Now she makes a similar maple taffy to garnish her whiskey rich Fléche cocktail, which gets a sugary lift from even more Grade A syrup. Make a reservation at Charcut.

Maple Cocktails

Burritt Room & Tavern, San Francisco, California
The phrase ‘study abroad’ used to conjure images of drinking in foreign countries while trying to improve international relations one hookup at a time. But now that we’re older, slightly wiser, and a tad more refined, the phrase makes us think fondly of this cocktail with the same name. Bourbon based, it’s sweetened with dark Grade B maple syrup and given some nuance through the inclusion of pear liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon juice. Make a reservation at Burritt Room & Tavern.

Maple Cocktails

Almanac, New York, New York
Simply called the Maple, this cocktail is essentially a seasonally accented Old Fashioned. The kick of the Overholt Rye and the botanicals of the dry vermouth are smoothed out by a dose of salted maple syrup and a couple of dashes of housemade orange bitters. Make a reservation at Almanac.

Maple Cocktails

The Salty Sow, Austin, Texas
The Maple Glazed Old Fashioned sounds like it could be an amazing doughnut. It’s also the name of this self-explanatory sipper, which features the classic cocktail sweetened with…yeah, you guessed it. What gave it away? Make a reservation at The Salty Sow.

Maple Cocktails

Gather, Berkeley, California
Earl Grey-infused maple syrup perks up this scotchy sipper, which would most certainly appeal to Ron Burgundy. Dubbed the Northern Exposure, it’s filled out with lemon juice, egg whites, and bitters. Here it goes, down into our bellies. Make a reservation at Gather.

Maple Cocktails

Wildwood Kitchen, Bethesda, Maryland
The Sunday mornings cocktail evokes brunch in a glass. Bacon-washed bourbon is mellowed out with hickory-smoked maple syrup, and vanilla and cinnamon tincture. The glass is finished off with a Serrano ham chip and an orange peel. Make a reservation at Wildwood Kitchen.

Maple Cocktails

The Smith-Midtown, New York, New York
Named after the lovable pig in Charlotte’s Web, the Sweet Wilbur aims to evoke the countryside. Sugar maple liqueur is blended with bourbon, allspice dram, apple cider, and bacon bitters (an item that made it into our Christmas stocking). To complete the cocktail, the rim is rolled in vanilla salt. Make a reservation at The Smith-Midtown.

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Mocktail Hour: The Best Booze-Free Mixed Drinks in NYC

If the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are one long party — filled with office fetes, a few too many holiday spirits, and just one more slice of pie — January is the hangover. Sometime in the midst of the third cookie swap of the season, the calibration shattered and excess became the standard. But the first month of the new year represents a fresh start in every sense, a time to reset the scale with healthier eating, extra trips to the gym, and, for some, cutting out alcohol. Whether you’re spending January atoning for all the gastronomic sins of the holiday season or have another reason to pass on the alcohol, these spots go beyond bland iced tea and club soda to offer the best booze-free mixed drinks in NYC worthy of the dishes they complement. We’ll drink to that.

Atera gets it. Bar Director Nick Duble explains that “for many people, enjoying a beverage pairing is just as essential to the overall experience as the food is” but he understands that the traditional wine pairing isn’t a fit for every guest. Enter the Temperance Pairing, created “to provide a non-alcoholic alternative that does not make people feel left out.” It’s hard to imagine feeling left out with cocktails that utilize ingredients and creativity to mimic the classics so sharply that the drinker might question how temperate these drinks really are. The Laurel Martini, for example, is made with cucumber and bay leaf and adds “a theatrical component to the pairing and increases its overall enjoyment.” Make a reservation at Atera.

Best Booze-Free Mixed Drinks in NYC

Gabriel Kreuther
New York magazine calls chef Gabriel Kreuther’s first solo restaurant, opened last summer, “the most elegant new boozehound destination in midtown.” (They, like many others, also recognized it as one of the year’s Best New Restaurants.) Luckily, even if you’re abstaining beverage director Emilie Perrier has some tempting picks. The fragrant Verte Light blends kale, green apple, mint, and coriander syrup while The Virgin Glory is inspired by the Morning Glory Fizz. The latter is typically made with Scotch, absinthe, and lemon for a hair-of-the-dog hangover helper, but Perrier’s version substitutes in Lapsang Souchong smoked black tea, fennel, and lemon for a similarly soothing, anise-flavored alternative. Make a reservation at Gabriel Kreuther.

Best Booze-Free Mixed Drinks in NYC

Highlighted as ‘Temperance Coolers’ on the menu, Tom Colicchio’s restaurant overlooking the East River features several seasonally-appropriate, alcohol-free choices. Bubbles is a blend of apple cider, cinnamon, lemon, and bitters for a festive, warming soft cocktail, perfect for pairing with the Berkshire pork chop or the pasta with Zucca (winter squash) and pumpkin pesto. Or, get your dose of Vitamin C with the Maiden Voyage, with pineapple, orange, lemon, lime, and Peychaud’s Bitters, and toast to a healthy new year. Make a reservation at Riverpark.

Best Booze-Free Mixed Drinks in NYC

Saxon + Parole
Non-drinkers won’t go thirsty at this stylish spot on the Bowery named after two famous racehorses. Among the six deliciously offbeat options, there’s the zippy Bell Pepper Lemonade with fresh red bell pepper juice, lemon, chili tincture, and Perrier, and the uniquely refreshing Garden Tonic with lime juice, celery bitters, celery juice, housemade tonic, and herbs, or with a little kick. (We’ll wait until February to request a splash of vodka in either.) Make a reservation at Saxon + Parole.

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Cheer in a Glass: Delicious Holiday Cocktails to Get You in the Spirit of the Season

Tired of the same old eggnog? Bartenders are, too, and in this season of giving, they’ve have shaken up and shared top picks from their drink menus to boost holiday outings beyond the basics. From the warmth of whiskey to sweet plum wine and spicy gingerbread liqueur, here are out-of-the-box holiday cocktails to pack some punch into your seasonal gatherings.

Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.
Health and wellness are a priority at Founding Farmers, so it’s no surprise that the winter beverage menu (offered through the end of February) spotlights fresh-pressed juices. Beverage Director John Arroyo’s Winter Pie features cold-pressed apple juice, vodka, lemon, and cinnamon syrup, garnished with fruit.

Holiday cocktails Founding Farmers

Crudo, Phoenix, Arizona
Serving anything in a Champagne flute emphasizes a celebratory spirit, but garnishing it with an orange peel bow makes it extra-special for the gift-giving season. In the Crudo Cran Royale, sparkling wine and bright lemon are given some added depth with housemade spiced cranberry syrup featuring clove, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Holiday cocktails Crudo

Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky
The pepper and oak notes of US*1 Rye mix perfectly with the orange, anise, and clove of the China-China liqueur in the Valley Forge Flip, but the splendor of this perfect pairing is only matched by the cocktail’s historical origins. The name pays homage to the Michter’s namesake rye that warmed Revolutionary troops when George Washington purchased 200 barrels for the brave men spending winter on the battlefield. The contemporary tipple gets an upgrade with a dash of nutmeg and indulgent Aztec chocolate bitters.

Holiday cocktails Proof on Main

SUSHISAMBA, New York, New York
There’s no need to head to the ballet for visions of sugar plums this season if you toast the season with a Smoked Plum Negroni. SUSHISAMBA’s Head of Spirit and Cocktail Development, Richard Woods, refreshed the signature list this December with unique, handcrafted cocktails. This one reinvents a classic aperitif with smoky Hakushu whiskey, umeshu (sweet/sour plum wine), vermouth, and citrus, that’s guaranteed to loosen up your own dancing feet.

Holiday cocktails sushisamba

Taj, Boston, Massachusetts
The Gaelic version of “cheers,” the blessing slainte toasts to good health — and this cocktail from Taj Boston bar manager Gabriela Garcia has a few medicinal benefits if you ask those who purport local honey can help allergy sufferers (the Taj Boston has its own rooftop hives). The Slainte’s warm whiskey notes are enhanced with a cinnamon stick, clove-studded lemon wheel, and hot water for a drink befitting the winter’s cold fingers.

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Hazy Hits: 13 Smoky Cocktails to Get You Fired Up for Fall

In the era of Mad Men, drinking and smoking went hand in hand. Now the tradition has returned – sort of – as mixologists incorporate smoky components into their creations. Whether they’re infusing spirits and syrups, making ice cubes and garnishes, or filling tumblers, they’re employing a flurry of flavorful fumes of which Don Draper would surely approve. Here are 13 smoky cocktails to get you fired up for fall.

El Cielo by Juan Manuel Barrientos, Miami, Florida
This is not your average Old Fashioned. Made with Ron Zacapa Rum, cherry and orange bitters, and vanilla sugar, it’s finished with a rehydrated slim cut orange wheel. To add a smoky finishing touch, maple wood is burned inside a glass covering the tumbler.

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Hakkasan, San Francisco, California
Have you ever sipped a Negroni and thought, “This is good, but it would be better if it was smoked.”? Now that’s a possibility. This version showcases gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari infused with a sweet smog created by Grand Marnier-soaked wood chips.

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Woodshed Smokehouse, Fort Worth, Texas
Smoked ice sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s a delicious reality. The cool cubes form the backbone of the Smokey Maria, a tequila-ized twist on a Bloody Mary. Made with a spicy tomato mix and Herradura Double Barrel Reposado, it’s an impeccable way to start the day.

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Café Artscience, Kendall Square, Massachusetts
Smoked orange peel and cinnamon add a finishing touch to this autumnal libation. Forged out of whiskey, brandy, orange-infused apple cider, and apple cider vinegar, its crisp flavors give way to a deep warmth — just what you’ll want at the end of a cool fall day.

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Del Campo, Washington, D.C.
Everyone goes crazy for Starbuck’s PSL in the fall. The smoked pumpkin Old Fashioned is a boozy alternative made with Bulleit Rye, pumpkin cordial, and Peychaud’s Bitters. Before its poured, a chilled glass is inverted over a small stack of flaming canela (Mexican cinnamon), adding a smoky, spicy sensibility to the cocktail. You can watch it all come together here. [Photo by Greg Powers]

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Trace, Austin, Texas
Now you don’t need a fork and knife to tackle brisket. The smoked meat is infused into George Dickel Rye, so you can sip it. It’s the spine of their take on a Bloody Mary pumped up with Pearl Snap Pils and garnished with a garlic pickle.

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Quality Meats, Miami Beach, Florida
Aged rum and sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry amp up this svelte sipper inspired by a Cuban cigar. To evoke the flavors of a smoldering stogie, housemade “Smoking Jacket” bitters and a cloud of peach wood smoke are incorporated. Cohiba not included.

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