Are you among the many drinkers who has a craving for pumpkin cocktails every autumn? It happens every year and as the leaves begin to change, so do our tastes. Luckily, there are quite a few great pumpkin-flavored mixed drinks that you can mix up in minutes.
Pumpkin is a unique flavor in the cocktail world. While it is not the most versatile, pumpkin can be found in everything from pumpkin martinis to punch recipes that are perfect for holiday parties.
How to Add Pumpkin to Your Drinks
Between all of those pumpkin lattes and pumpkin martinis, pumpkin has certainly been a trending flavor since the early 2000s. There are a few ingredients that will add that sweet pumpkin taste to your drinks and they become relatively easy to find come fall.
Many drink recipes use pumpkin-flavored ingredients that are used in food. Pumpkin butter, seeds, fresh purees, and pumpkin pie spice are among those that often crossover from the table to the bar.
You will also notice a few pumpkin syrups and pumpkin liqueurs appear on store shelves beginning in September. However, if you have a favorite brand it's not always a guarantee that it will be around next year. Pumpkin is a fickle and very seasonal flavor and producers of pumpkin products cannot always keep it going.
If your favorite disappears, simply move on to the next option because this is the reality of a pumpkin lover.
Tip: For any of these drink recipes, consider adding a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice on top of the drink (such as you would with nutmeg) for a seasonal garnish.
Pumpkin-Flavored Cocktail Recipes
The following drink recipes use those pumpkin-flavored ingredients that make an appearance in many autumn foods.
They are actually quite easy and a perfect way to avoid the pitfalls of finding pumpkin-flavored liquor, allowing you to enjoy the same drinks year after year.
Pumpkin butter is a popular ingredient and it adds a nice, rich texture to cocktails. Pumpkin syrup (such as Monin) can often be used as a substitute and is the easiest way to create those pumpkin lattes.
Other recipes opt for pumpkin spice, which will give your drink that pumpkin pie flavor without the concentrated pumpkin. And yet, for the full-flavored pumpkin drinks, give the pumpkin puree cocktails a taste.
- Polished Princess - pumpkin spice with vanilla vodka and cranberries
- Pumpkin Old Fashioned - pumpkin puree with bourbon and maple syrup
- Pumpkin Shandy - pumpkin butter and pumpkin ale with Cointreau
- Pumpkin Spice - pumpkin puree with ginger vodka
Buy or DIY Pumpkin-Flavored Distilled Spirits
It can be difficult to find a pumpkin-flavored liquor because it is a very seasonal flavor and few liquor companies take on the often unprofitable challenge. However, a few do and some come and go rather quickly. It seems that once you find a great one, it disappears.
An exception to this (as of 2016, anyway) is Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, which has been relatively easy to find throughout the fall and winter since 2008.
It may not be the best pumpkin liqueur ever created, but it's reliable and makes a good drink.
Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka, seems to be one of the regulars when it comes to a pumpkin vodka, as the brand has released it seasonally since 2013. There may be others that come out as the dessert vodka trend continues, we will just have to wait and see.
In 2016, Captain Morgan released Jack-O'Blast, a pumpkin pie-flavored variation on their popular spiced rum. The nice thing about this one is that it's available at most stores that sell Captain Morgan.
Search your liquor store shelves for the season's current selections as it is difficult to keep up with this tricky flavor.
Tip: Many small distilleries play with seasonal releases of pumpkin-flavored liquors. Though they're often only available in small batches and sold in very limited markets, it's worth checking in with your local craft distillers to see what they're up to.
Another option is to infuse your own liquor. It is a little trickier than other infusions and the Spiced Pumpkin Martini recipe below includes one method for pulling it off. The Great Pumpkin recipe also includes a Scotch infusion recipe that is unique and surprisingly good.
Pumpkin Liquor Cocktail Recipes
Once you find your pumpkin spirits, you will need a recipe or two to use them in. Most of these cocktail recipes specify a brand, yet as we've discussed, that can be difficult to stay true to. That said, almost every drink here will work with whatever pumpkin-flavored liquor you can find, you may just need to make some adjustments.
- Ghost-tini - pumpkin liqueur with vanilla vodka and Irish cream
- (The) Great Pumpkin - pumpkin-infused scotch whisky (recipe included) with ginger liqueur
- Pumpkin Fever - pumpkin liqueur with spiced rum and cream
- Pumpkin Martini - pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup with vanilla vodka and cream
- Pumpkin Pie Martini - pumpkin liqueur with vanilla vodka and RumChata
- Pumpkin Spice Martini - pumpkin liqueur with rye whiskey and anise liqueur
- Spiced Pumpkin - pumpkin pie vodka with Irish cream
- Spiced Pumpkin Martini - pumpkin vodka (recipe included) with spiced syrup and ginger
- Thanksgiving Cider - pumpkin pie vodka with apple cider and club soda