For cocktail enthusiasts, the much-anticipated transition of many a bar's menu from summer to fall is like the spirited equivalent of watching the leaves turn. It's a familiar ritual, marked by familiar colors and familiar flavors, and yet it marks the beginning of something fresh and different from years past.
At Julie Reiner's revered Brooklyn cocktail den, Clover Club, the newly released fall cocktail menu is replete with drinks that exemplify this dichotomy of nostalgia and novelty. "The menu changes pretty extensively about every four months, but certainly the biggest changes occur between summer and fall, winter and spring," she explains. "This menu has all the quintessential flavors that we think of in the fall—cranberry, apple, pear, ginger—but also every year there are new inspirations, new spirits and products you want to work with."
One new fall flavor that Reiner was particularly excited about is more commonly found on the food side of the menu. "I knew I wanted to do something with beets," she says of the inspiration behind the appropriately titled We Got the Beet. The rich, vegetal tequila- and mezcal-based drink is part of a section of chef-inspired cocktails that were created in partnership with Clover Club's chef Gil Calderon.
But even the usual suspects are delivered with some element of freshness. Cranberry, for example, stars in a new twist on the sour that brings together port and gin. "I think when people taste the Port of Call, the combination of port, gin, cinnamon, and cranberries is so evocative it's almost like they're revisiting a familiar holiday tradition that they've never actually experienced before," says creator Tom Macy, Clover Club's head bartender.