Fall is officially here, and there’s no better way to celebrate autumn than by breaking out the seasonal spirits. Lucky for Chicago there’s no shortage of locally made fall-inspired sippers, each one showcasing some of the season’s best flavors—from apples and pears, to walnuts and spices. We’ve compiled five favorites just in time for bonfires and the crisp nights that call for them:
The team behind this newly formed Chicago-based spirits line spent two years developing the recipe for its cidre, a crisp, bubbly expression made in Condé-sur-Vire in France’s Normandy region. This may technically be a hard cider, but at just 2.5% ABV, it’s considered highly sessionable. Its alcohol content isn’t the only impressively low figure: it boasts only 96 calories per serving or about 70 less than other hard ciders out there. We’ll drink to that!
Seeing as walnut harvesting season is well underway, this liqueur couldn’t be more ripe for enjoyment. Comprised of organic walnuts and a white rye whiskey base, expect warm, nutty aromas with a hint of spice, followed by a pleasant kick of cinnamon on the palate. Pairing it up with bourbon and apple cider is a no-brainer, but it’s just as fun in the kitchen (spiked pecan pie, anyone?).
In keeping with their seasonal gin release, this Chicago-based distillery debuted one oh-so-fitting for fall just two weeks ago. Described lovingly by the team as the results of “if gin and aquavit were to have a beet-flavored baby,” this bottle had one main inspiration: borscht, an Eastern European soup heavy on roasted beets, dill, black pepper, caraway, and cumin. Look for all of the aforementioned flavors in one sip of this spirit—which makes for a mean negroni and dry martini base, as well as a stellar pickled egg pairing.
Though aquavit is traditionally Scandinavian—with iterations made across Sweden, Norway, and Denmark—this suburban distillery is responsible for creating the first aged one in the States. A grain base is distilled with caraway, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and cinnamon before it’s aged in new American oak, resulting in rich caramel notes and bursts of fall-forward flavor. Try it straight from the freezer or in a Bloody Mary for a feisty start to a Saturday.
After their time traveling through France and experiencing Normandy’s Calvados distilleries, Rhine Hall co-founder Jenny Solberg and her husband Taylor were inspired to create their own pommeau—a blend of apple brandy and apple cider. After spending nine months in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, this cider is likely far more complex than the ones you remember from autumns of yore, thanks to a handful of rich, deep aromas and flavors. That layered backbone helps it pair up perfectly with cheese—especially another Normandy specialty, camembert.