Get Sh*t Done: Two Easy Fall Cocktails For Weddings

Get your drink on!

Even though those of us in the Bay Area are finally turning on our ceiling fans and breaking out our sandals (insert gratuitous misquoting of Mark Twain here) it’s actually mid-September, which for most people means fall. Fall to me, like other people who love obvious symbols, means cider. So when it came time to do some easy fall cocktails I decided to do both common forms of it—sparkling and hot. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would say “yes please” to cider two different (boozy) ways if you decided to serve both at the same wedding.

As with our Summer Cocktails, I wanted to make these drinks super approachable (i.e. your sister’s college roommate who’s competent but has never bartended professionally could easily make them). The amazing Emilia of Emilia Jane Photography was in town for a wedding, and since we originally bonded over our shared love of cocktails, I asked her to help me develop the drinks and take the incredible pictures of them you see here. Let’s get started!

Okay. I know that generally you don’t serve whisky drinks in a champagne flute, but, come on—most things are more fun in a champagne flute, especially at a wedding. This could easily be served in a rocks glass, and is worth noting that it’s delicious either way. I actually had to stop myself from drinking a whole glass by remembering that we were shooting these drinks at 10am.


  1. Pour one ounce (about a shot) whiskey into a glass, and top with three ounces sparking apple cider (so the glass is about 3/4 way full).
  2. Squeeze in a lemon wedge.
  3. Garnish with an apple slice if desired for extra fanciness. (Also a snack!)

Who doesn’t like hot cider? That person and I cannot be friends. It’s the perfect fall drink, and lovely for a chilly cocktail hour or almost any post-dinner round of drinks. A stock pot and a portable camp stove make for easy heating (and cuteness) at any bar, although you could also pre-heat these and serve them out of large thermoses or airpots.


  1. Mix three parts pear (or, if you can’t find it, apple) cider and one part spiced rum, and add sugar and cinnamon to taste (about 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon per cup of rum).
  2. Heat up. (Camp stoves are great for doing this at an outside bar.)
  3. Serve! Garnish with an apple slice for fanciness.
What are you favorite easy drinks for fall? Please share the recipes in the comments. I’m always looking for new ones!

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  • Breck

    These look delicious! Does anyone have a good, simple homemade cider recipe? It may be 90 and sunny here, but I need some fall in my life.

    • Amy March

      Cider is customarily made by chopping up whole apples and then pressing them to extrude the juice, so it’s not really an easy process to replicate at home (although, awesomely, there are businesses that will rent you a cider press for the weekend). You can make a facsimile using a really good juicer, but I find it’s still more apple juice than apple cider and not worth it to me.

      • Breck

        I knew it was fairly involved/impossible to make real cider at home, but that is really cool that you can rent a press!

      • Emily

        Random apple press rental knowledge. This is why you’re one of my favorite readers.

    • As Amy said, cider is actually kind of a pain to make from scratch, but you could rent a press if you really wanted.

      Another option- if you have a high school near you, they most likely have an FFA chapter, and the students are probobly more than happy to sell you really good cider in hopes of earning their super cool purple corduroy jacket.

    • KC

      I know it’s not technically cider unless you start with cider, but… I go for “hot apple cider” that is a half-gallon of apple juice (or apple cider), 1-2 cinnamon sticks (depending on size), 5-6 cloves [the little brown pointy things, not garlic], and an optional twist of orange/lemon/tangerine zest. You can also optionally add in a star anise pod or some cardamom or a few slices of fresh ginger or whatever, but I generally just go for cloves and cinnamon and it gets rave (if potentially untruthful?) reviews. Simmer in a crock pot or a big pot on the stove until optimal spiciness level is reached, then remove your spices (depends on the heat level, but usually an hour or so – if you need it faster, double the spices and boil them in a smaller amount of juice in the microwave to make a spice concentrate, and then add that compound to the rest of the juice).

      (also: if you’re hosting a long party and it’s continually open and over heat, add water at some point, or you will end up with spiced apple syrup, which is delicious over pancakes but not so refreshing to drink)

      I like using whole spices for more ambiance and less grittiness, but powdered spices can be swapped in if that’s what you have in the cupboard – just use less to start with (1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves) because there’s no easy way of removing them later.

      Bonus: apartment will smell fantastic.

      • Breck

        Honestly, I’m at least 40% in it for the house-will-smell-amazing effects. Faux cider in my apartment very soon!

        • KC

          My favorite microwave-cleaning-quick-house-scenting method: combine around 1/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup water, and some whole spices in a large-enough-that-it-probably-won’t-boil-over container (my 4-cup pyrex measuring cup is awesome for this), bring to a boil in the microwave (or allow to boil for a little while in the microwave), let it sit in there and steam for 10 minutes, then take it out (with a hotpad) and wipe down the newly-steamed-off crud from inside of microwave.

          Pour still-nearly-boiling liquid, minus any whole spices (I use a fork to keep them in the container), down garbage disposal or kitchen sink for an extra shot of cleaning/deodorizing. Do not drink.

          It doesn’t last as long as an all-evening simmering pot of cider, but as a last-thing-to-do-before-guests-arrive-if-apartment-smelled-kinda-funky, it works pretty well. :-) (yeah, clearly I’m super classy. But I’m also allergic to most scented air fresheners and candles. So… whatever.)

          • Emmers

            that sounds awesome. Must try to have lemon deliciousness scents in my house!

          • KC

            It doesn’t end up staying very lemon-scented, so add some peel if you want more proper lemony-fresh citrus aroma (the fragrant oils are in the zest of citrus fruits). I think the acid from the lemon juice helps kick the microwave grime, but I may just be deluding myself – the “power” may actually all just be the steam bath.

      • CII

        A couple of other tips and tricks from a spiced hot cider fan…
        – insert cloves into an orange or lemon and put that in the crock pot while the cider simmers simmering. Releases citrus oils and keeps the cloves in one place for easy removal when spices start to get too strong.
        – buy mulling spices and put them in a little enclosed tea strainer ball to add flavor but avoid grittiness.

        • KC

          That is genius. The cinnamon sticks are easy to pull, and I’ve used the little-cheesecloth-baggie approach to keep the spices removable-all-at-once before, but usually I just throw it all in and then later I’m trying to corral cloves with a strainer, and they can be sneaky little critters. (but: it usually doesn’t matter much if you miss one, so there’s that. Gloriously difficult to entirely mess up hot spiced cider.)

        • Breck

          This sounds amazing. I’m definitely trying it this weekend!

    • mimi

      If there’s a Trader Joe’s nearby, they sell a few different varieties of cider. Or there’s always unfiltered apple juice, it’s pretty close.

    • Kat

      When I want “homemade” cider I do up what I like to call “poor man’s cider”:

      -Heat up one can of Apple Juice (not the frozen stuff) in a slow cooker or pot on stovetop.
      -Throw in: Cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves. Add in cardamom or some ginger if you’re feeling extra fancy/posh.
      -Add 1 or 2 Orange Pekoe tea bags depending on how much tea flavour you want.
      Let this simmer away all day long. Bonus: makes your house smell amazing.
      When you go to serve a mug full add in a shot or more of your favourite fall time booze.

  • Well, these came at an awesome time in my November wedding planning! We actually won a free signature cocktail from our venue (woohoo, ’cause we can’t afford booze!) but have had a hard time choosing one. I want something very autumnal and fun, but also crowd-pleasing . . . I’m definitely liking the sound of the spiked hot cider, especially because we’re having an outdoor ceremony in Maryland. (Perhaps crazy, hopefully not.) But if anyone else has ideas, I’m all ears!

    • AmandaS

      Is it a little too college party to suggest apple cider and hot damn or other cinnamon liqueur? Yes, No? I don’t care, it’s delicious!

      A honey ginger drink would also suit the fall/coldness. What about ginger hot toddies. To be honest, I have no idea what’s in a hot toddy, I just know it’s an alcoholic beverage served hot. I’ve also had a honey ginger lemonade drink with whiskey that was just scrumptious.

      Would mulled wine count as a cocktail? Wine served hot stewed/steamed/simmered with all sorts of lovely spices.

      • M.

        ummm honey ginger lemonade is totally appropriate for 9:20am at my desk right? RIGHT?! sounds soooooooo gooooood…

      • A hot toddy, while DELISH, may not be everyone’s cuppa, and is hard to make for a group, because it involves brewing hot tea.

        But I love the idea of a honey ginger whiskey lemonade!!! We are having pre-ceremony drinks served in those big glass canisters (which FYI for anyone looking, Groupon has regularly great deals for and we have already used them for two other parties and have more than gotten our money’s worth from them), so that would totally fit the bill for that! I am trying to come up with two crowd pleasers that I can use for the pre-ceremony drinks. We’re doing outdoors in November, but it’s Texas, so it’s just as likely to be 74 degrees as it is to be 60.

        • Hmm. I never knew the hot toddie was made with tea, although I agree its not great for large groups.

          I’ve always made it with boiling water poured over whiskey and a little fresh lemon juice. And I put sliced lemons with cloves in as well. Some people also put in a bit of honey, but I like mine with extra lemon.

          • mimi

            I think a hot toddy technically includes tea, lemon, honey, and whiskey (and of course hot water).

        • Jade

          I’ve never heard of making hot toddy’s with tea… just lemon, honey, and whiskey.

          But! If you should wish you could go super traditional (Russian samovar method) in tea making and brew a super strong base and then add to the hot water/lemon/honey/whiskey to taste.

          • Rachel

            Tea in a toddy is new to me too – whiskey, hot water, honey and lemon sounds about right here and in the UK. In fact Whiskey + hot water + other stuff is the base of a toddy I’d say

      • tiffany

        what about fireball whiskey? I also would love to know more about this honey ginger lemonade with whiskey. Sounds amazing!

    • Rachel

      I think I’ve posted this here before but this apple cider margarita is one of my fall favorites!

  • I really like mulled cider- with orange peels, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, etc. You can buy mulling spices or make them for pretty cheap and I bet that second drink would be off the chain with mulled cider!

    Do people say off the chain anymore?

    • Emmy

      The only thing better than mulled cider is mulled wine. I have a recipe with a bunch of orange juice and orange slices, so it’s like warm sangria. Mmmmm….

      • Erin

        Yesss. Mulled wine is my favorite wine. Which is like saying the fluffiest kitty is my favorite kitty. They’re all my favorites.

  • Ooooo, that sparkling whiskey punch looks good. Whiskey is my mans’ go-to beverage, perhaps I should give it a try!

  • Mary

    We did spiked hot cider at our October wedding last year. So delicious!

  • Lindsay Rae

    OMG. Can’t wait to try these!!! So obsessed with Fall things – hopefully my fiance will get on board with one as our signature drink for our October 2014 wedding!!

  • Yesssssss!

    I always do go cider in the fall, but that sparkling recipe looks delicious!

    Th second it starts to turn fall-like, I start to think about cold weather drinks (I don’t feel like NYC gets a full fall, and it’s blustery before we know it. I love a good hot buttered rum, maulled wine, and hot toddie.

    • Stupid auto correct!

      Mulled wine. Although maulled wine might have an interesting story to tell.

      • Isn’t all wine mauled? I mean, those grapes get a BEAT down.

  • lady brett

    sparkling cider and whiskey? yes, please! i’ll have to keep that in mind for my sweet/fancy tooth…sounds appealingly fancy and less sweet than a cream soda and whiskey (which, by the way, you should really try – but cream soda is deadly sweet).

  • Alexis

    Mmmm… awesome ideas! I love the ‘snack’ cocktail garnishes :) Is the sparkling cider in the punch hard cider, or non-alcoholic? I can’t read the label… We actually served some local sparkling cider (hard), instead of champagne for toasting at our early fall wedding last year. Another cider-y idea, if you’re serving bottled beer, you could add a bottled hard cider to the selection too. Harpoon makes a really good one, although I’m not sure how widely distributed outside of New England it is…?

    • it’s non-alcoholic (so, essentially TJ’s house brand Martinelli’s) although, hard cider could certainly be awesome as well!

  • Perfect timing! We just met with the catering director at our reception venue and I brought up the idea of a signature drink or two. She asked me what I had in mind, and I drew a blank. One of these might be perfect for our October party! My mister and I will, of course, have to do thorough tasting and comparisons.

  • Emmy

    I made the summer sangria from your Summer Cocktails post for my August wedding and it was super easy and fabulous! People loved it!

  • ART

    Yum! I will be making the whiskey cider for Thanksgiving – we do a whiskey and champagne cocktail served in a champagne flute that is to die for, but also goes down real easy and gets you pretty hammered before you know it ;) This seems like a great alternative!

  • I’m headed back to PA this weekend for the wedding of one of my college buds, and I must say, I’m most looking forward to knocking back a few Yuenglings :-)

    Though I also miss living so close to orchard country in PA, I need more fresh cider in my life!

  • Krystal

    For our “fall” wedding last October one of our signature drinks was a shot of American Honey (a honey infused bourbon whiskey) and then the glass topped with ginger ale. It went over really well, we went through way more of that than any other drink!

  • tiffany

    Oh! All of these drinks sound amazing!! I’m getting married two weeks from today (yikes!) and am just doing a bonfire reception and as I am a fall girl through and through, I had planned on having apple cider for guests to drink instead of soda or anything like that. This spiked cider sounds amazing as the soon to be mister and I are both whiskey drinkers as well. We will be having some home-made mead on hand (13 gallons thanks to a friend), but this sounds like a great addition.
    I do have to point out something that is confusing me in the picture though, it looks like the picture of the ingredients for the spiked cider has a bottle of flip flop wine instead of a bottle of spiced whiskey. Am I seeing this wrong? Now, keep in mind it is 10 am where I am at, and I am at work and am now day dreaming of trying these lovely suggestions (as well as the apple cider margarita -yum!), but besides that… Sorry, I seem to always notice little detail things like that, just like the spelling/grammar error on the main page advertising next month’s topic. I’m a bit crazy like that. . :)

    • it’s Flip Flop spiced rum! newly available at my local Trader Joe’s

      • Tiffany

        That’s great! I’ve not seen that before, sorry for the confusion! I will certainly have to check that one out next time I go to the store! Thank you! :)

  • Concetta

    These sound delicious, and I for one, think a champagne flute is perfect for anything sparkly! Can’t wait to try it! I love whiskey drinks, and my new husband I believe that fall is the unofficial start of Manhattan season. Not everyone likes them, however. Last year, I was in the mood for something whiskey based and apple-y. I discovered the Big Apple, a sweeter variation on a Manhattan. I no longer have the exact proportions, but it might be fun to perfect at home with friends! It has Canadian whiskey, Applejack (an apple spirit available seasonally where I live), a few drops of bitters and a splash of honey liqueur. To me, it tastes like autumn in a glass!
    I also recommend Gluhwein, a hot spiced red wine often served in Germany. Inexpensive, cozy and easy to make for a crowd.

  • Casey

    My favorite is spiced apple cider (R.W. Knudson brand – I’ve found it Whole Foods), Canton ginger-infused Cognac (it’s sweet), and whiskey. YUM!

  • What’s the flip flop wine bottle in the picture used for? I don’t see it in the recipe…

  • Anna

    I mean, I would totally drink these, but in what way does this necessitate the skills of a professional wedding planner?

  • Rachel

    A quick clarification which makes a BIG difference to the recipe for readers in New Zealand, the UK, and Australia:

    Over here, what I’m guessing is cider is “pressed apple juice”.

    Cider here an in the UK is when you take the juice, ferment it for a good while and then have a drink which is more like a beer (and sold in bottles).

    It comes in Apple Cider and Pear Cider forms, and is legendary in it’s form as a snakebite (combining Cider and lager beer) for making you drunk really quickly.

    If you were to use our cider (not sparkling apple juice) in cocktails you’d be wanting to line up the designated drivers!

    • Kat

      We have alcoholic apple cider/pear cider in the can/bottle/draught etc here too. Up until recently Strongbow, Sir Perry and what not weren’t really mainstream (at least in Canada) but it is getting to be more popular.

      “Pressed Apple Juice” is probably a bit more accurate but it’s not to be confused with unfiltered apple juice which tastes similar to each other. Neither of these are alcoholic and neither of them are “sparkling.”

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