Drinking the Farmers Market: Pumpkins, Pears, Grapes and More
Farmers markets aren’t just for seasonal salads. Their bounty of fresh produce is a boon for cocktailians across the country. Every month we guide you through your local stalls and offer delicious recommendations for how to drink your way through your haul.
Here’s what to look for in September.
As other summer fruits flee the market stands in early fall, plump grapes remain. Get a double dose by muddling the raw fruit with its fortified sibling—sherry—for a seasonal take on a Sherry Cobbler. Or, skewer a few grapes with apple chunks and grill until charred for incredible Sangria garnish kabobs.
Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is the clear king of beverages this time of year. We might as well call fall “PSL season.” But the ubiquitous beverage doesn’t actually contain any pumpkin. Instead of indulging in dessert masquerading as coffee, pair pumpkin with rum for a fall-appropriate cocktail. Purée roasted pumpkin, then mix it with rum, Angostura bitters and condensed milk for a pumpkin Rum Punch. Or, if the temperature spikes one last time before fall truly sets in, you can also blend puréed pumpkin into a bourbon-spiked milkshake with vanilla or caramel ice cream.
While the store-bought stuff tastes basically the same as fresh-from-the-farm celery, celebrate the arrival of celery season by plopping a few just-picked stalks into your next Bloody Mary. Or, juice a bunch or two to make fresh celery juice—a surprisingly delicious addition to a Gin Gimlet.
When it comes to fall fruits, apples reign supreme. Their greatness was not lost on our nation’s founder, George Washington, who distilled his apples into brandy at Mount Vernon, making applejack the quintessential American apple treat (take that apple pie). Roast apple halves until soft and muddle them with that great American spirit to make extra-seasonal Hot Toddies (strain out the solids and top with more hot water before serving). You could also combine apple cider (hot or cold) with whiskey for a simple two-ingredient taste of fall and garnish the concoction with a slice of apple, drizzled with honey or maple syrup.
There are those who think pears play second fiddle to apples at the fall fruit stand. Those people are fools. Muddled or puréed, pear is a perfect companion to ginger in a Dark ‘N’ Stormy or Moscow Mule. Pear purée is also delightful in an autumnal Bellini or an extra-pear-packed take on the cleverly named, Your Own Pear-sonal Jesus.
Though they’re most known for co-starring with goat cheese in salads, beets are crazy versatile and fantastic in cocktails. Combine fresh beet juice with gin and tonic for an earthy, lightly sweet G&T, or make a vinegar-based beet shrub and combine it with horseradish and vodka in a vegetal, spicy Bloody Mary. Beets also play well with scotch or mezcal. Try the juice in a mezcal Margarita or blended into a blood-red Whiskey Sour made with blended scotch.