CityDrinks: Sugar, Spice and Pumpkin Make Nice

There’s so much more to pumpkins than pie. Bars around the country are getting gourd with their cocktails, adding a bit of the seasonal squash to their sips.

The Upstate at Pearl Wine Co.

When Pearl Wine Co. owner Leora Madden heard that Mississippi distillery Cathead (maker of a cult-favorite pecan vodka) was launching a limited-edition pumpkin vodka, she immediately pre-ordered six cases and secured a month of exclusive rights for her New Orleans bar-retail shop.

She and mixologist Mary Dixie Anderson developed The Upstate with all things fall in mind — a cup of tea with honey, spices, warm citrus and, of course, pumpkin. It has been Pearl’s top-selling cocktail since it was added to the menu in September.

The Upstate

  • 1 ½ ounces Cathead Pumpkin Spice
  • ⅛ ounce allspice or pimento dram
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  •  1 ounce tea syrup (see below)


1. To make the syrup, brew extra-strong red tea, then combine equal parts tea and honey. Add two scant teaspoons of salt to one quart of tea syrup.

2. To make the cocktail, combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice and strain. Serve in a jelly jar.

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The Pumpkin Chai at Bar Dupont in Washington, DC.


One-upping the omnipresent pumpkin latte, Bar Dupont in Washington, DC, serves a Pumpkin Chai cocktail made with four creamy, spiced liquors. No mixers. No messing around.  Served cold or warm — to thaw after trick-or-treating festivities — it’s a well-spiced sample of the season.

Pumpkin Chai

  • 1 ounce Spiced Rum (preferable Captain Morgan)
  • 1 ounce Frangelico
  • 1 ounce  White Chocolate Liqueur (preferably Godiva)
  • 1 ounce Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice


Combine in a shaker. If chilled, add ice. Shake. Add to chilled martini glass. Garnish with cinnamon.


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Smashing Pumpkins is made with Maine pumpkin beer.


Across town at Graffiato, the fall favorite Smashing Pumpkins gets a double dose of the gourd with Corsair Pumpkin Moonshine and Maine’s Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale.

The mix, which also includes Pennsylvania maple syrup and allspice bitters, is brightened with orange oil.

“It just reminds everyone of fall,” said bar manager Taha Ismail, who suggests pairing the hoptail with one of the menu’s seasonal dishes, such as Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) with persimmon and arugula.

  • Kaleidoscope Eyes

    These look great, but they look a little bit advanced for the mixology-challenged. Would the author consider a workshop we could sign up for? :)