Fall Into Fabulous: Stocking Your Bar for the Season

As the air acquires a chill and the days get shorter, our home lives adapt to the cooler months. Out come the faux fur throws; we stock up on candles and cozy firewood; our dinners change from light al fresco meals to cozy home-cooked stews and roasts.

Our liquor cravings change too—no longer do we long for fruit-infused margaritas or crisp gin cocktails; instead, we find ourselves reaching for all things autumn. Who doesn’t want to snuggle up with a rich red wine, nurse a smoky single malt, or indulge in a warm Toddy as the months get colder?

Here’s my guide to stocking the ultimate bar for fall and winter. Rich, Spiced and Full-Bodied. Gone are the summer months of white spirits and light cocktails—winter is all about brown liquor and rich flavors.

I always think it’s essential to add a Cognac to your winter bar. It’s classy, traditional and yet surprisingly unusual in homes today. There’s nothing better than sipping a snifter of Cognac, wrapped in a blanket under the stars. It’s also a great staple for some fantastic winter cocktails like Sidecars, Stingers or Brandy Alexanders!

My other winter basic is whiskey. I love a great Rye, like Bulleit or Templeton. It’s perfectly wintery on its own, while being slightly spicier and edgier than a Bourbon. Plus it tastes amazing in classic autumn cocktails like Manhattans.

One thing a lot of people forget for their winter bar is rum. I always add either a lightly-spiced or aged rum. It’s vital for your holiday eggnog or a cozy Hot Toddy, and can be used in a plethora of other exciting cocktails!

Don’t forget to warm these up, too! The above liquors can transition you from classic rocks cocktails in the crisp, cool autumn, to toasty warm fireside beverages through the cold winter. A Hot Toddy, some mulled wine, a rich Irish coffee ... there’s nothing better than something heartwarming on a cold day!

Fall Flavors. Who doesn’t love the relaxed, welcoming, memory-invoking flavors of fall and winter? Spiced apples, hot chocolate and pumpkin pie: they can all apply to your bar as well. Your mixers and cordials are where you can really have fun when stocking your seasonal bar. I have 3 or 4 liqueur essentials: Crème de Cacao (perfect for everything from Chocolate Martinis to Brandy Alexanders) and Godiva Chocolate Liqueur (it’s rich and chocolaty and so decadent it hurts), Kahlua (for all the wintery after dinner drinks and the perfect Espresso Martinis) and St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (for spicing up your Champagne with a classic winter wonderland flavor).

Holidays. When deciding on your go-to liquors, remember that Thanksgiving’s just around the corner and Christmas is slowly creeping up on you. If your holiday schedule is usually based on the theme “the more the merrier,” then you might want to go with a large amount of affordable staples. If you tend to be more low-key and celebrate with just close family and friends, then invest in some wonderful sippers that will foster conversation!

Bubbles. This is a last-quarter essential for me. The colder months always bring with them cocktail parties, holidays and events, and bubbles are the perfect way to celebrate. Not only does Champagne fill the space left by all those light summery cocktails, it can also be used for fantastic wintery drinks like a traditional Champagne Cocktail or a French 75.

Enjoy! For more tips, visit my Eats & Drinks section of www.TheDivineAddiction.com

Features Editor Pandora Vanderpump