Pumpkin is one of those quintessential icons of autumn in America. Across the continent the orange globes are ubiquitous from late September until early November, especially in October, before halloween. Lately, the pumpkin proliferation has captivated our inner mixologist, and so here we are, mixing them into drinks. Furthermore, what sort of cocktail blog we this be without a pumpkin drink in October?
There are many ways to integrate pumpkin flavor into your drinks. If you want the easy way out, there are some pumpkin liqueurs that are seasonally available, such as a pumpkin spice liqueur from Hiram Walker. Also, although I don’t personally recommend them, there are pumpkin-flavored vodkas which show up occasionally. But, if you’re looking to use raw pumpkin, as we did, your options include pumpkin syrup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, or fresh pumpkin juice. We chose to use fresh pumpkin juice. Why? Because fresh pumpkin juice is tasty, and it’s rich in alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, fiber, vitamins C , В1, B2, В6, and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, and fatty acids. It has a semi-sweet, light, vegetal taste, and pairs well with cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and, most importantly, whiskey.
As always, it’s vitally important to use fresh juice. If you aren’t using fresh juice, we highly recommend investing in a juicer. Any kind of juicer is better than no juicer, as store-bought juices are usually pasteurized, which tragically destroys many of the health benefits and, more importantly, the flavor benefits, of using fresh juice. Besides, half the fun and charm of mixing drinks is using seasonal fruits and flavors, and what better or more fun way than to make some fresh juice at home?
Shake, strain into a cocktail goblet, garnish with freshly ground nutmeg and a pumpkin sail.
This drink goes something like this: pumpkin juice and nutmeg on the sip, followed by the spices from the other elements in the drink, and finally the oaky barrel-aged tastes from the bourbon linger after the swallow. Cardamaro is the perfect fall aperitivo; it has just the right blend of spice and herb notes. It’s a tad bitter, but not as much as punt e mes or carpano antica. The pumpkin flavor came through, but not as strongly as we had hoped. If you choose to make one of these at home, here’s how to improve this recipe: the pumpkin juice needs to be reduced with sugar and spices, and the bourbon needs to be rye. We’d leave the Cardamaro right where it is, though, it’s perfect. Fresh nutmeg on top went a long way towards getting it there. Don’t skimp on that fresh nutmeg!
I want to say that this drink was awesome, but in all honesty, using the pumpkin’s juice probably isn’t the best way to incorporate it’s flavor into a cocktail. We made this drink to celebrate the fall, and to that end, I think we could have done better by making some kind of toddy, or perhaps another round of Memories of Fall. Next time we mix with pumpkin, we’ll either try using the pumpkin’s seeds, which I’ve heard lend a delightful earthy quality to a drink, or we’ll make some pumpkin syrup.