Since 2010, when San Diego food writer Troy Johnson featured Grant Grill's Smashing Pumpkin on the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, I've had "try that" on my bucket list. Yet every year, something foils my plans and the Smashing Pumpkin (pumpkin-infused Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, Cointreau Noir, Massenez Creme de Ginger Liqueur, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Scrappy's Cardamom Bitters, saffron and Meyer lemon) eludes me. I will try it this year. I will.
After I finally try the Smashing Pumpkin, I'll head over to Polite Provisions for Erick Castro's Pumpkin Pie cocktail. Or, since I've got pumpkin butter in the fridge and Cognac in the liquor cabinet, perhaps I'll make it at home (though, I predict it'll fall short of Polite Provisions' version):
- 2 ounces Cognac
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin butter
- 3 dashes old-fashioned bitters
Strain into a soda glass without ice, top with a splash of soda and fresh-grated nutmeg.
If pumpkin's not your thing, Polite Provisions' holiday menu also has a classic Hot Buttered Rum (aged rum, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, melted butter, hot water), the Peppermint Butler (Fernet Mentha, Crème de Cacao and cream) and the Dark Harvest, a spiced take on an Old Fashioned with bourbon, lemon, Becherovka and cinnamon gomme.
Sycamore Den has also rolled out a few new cocktails that incorporate seasonal flavors. The Holiday Highball, with apple brandy, lime, ginger-cinnamon syrup, soda and whiskey-barrel-aged bitters, will have you forgetting how much you hate the holidays. The Autumn Java taps into local coffee-roasting talent with its blend of scotch, aged rum, Curacao, Dark Horse coffee and mole bitters. And Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii (five rums, a house-made secret syrup, grapefruit and pineapple juice) will set you back $15—and you have to hand over your ID so you don't make off with the mug (pictured)—but you can caress Tom Selleck's mustache with every swig.