With the passage from warm sun to chilly breezes, allow autumn to help you let go of summer’s light and fruity drinks and ease you into cooler nights with dark and smoky booze. Expect richer flavors from barrel-aged beer, ginger and warming spices.
Inspired by Alexandria’s roots, head bartender Maria Concepcion wrote a colonial-era inspired cocktail list when the Morrison House Hotel unveiled its new restaurant, Ashlar, this spring. Many of the drinks, served in the cozy 18-seat bar, are heavy on Madeira, sherry and rum, and many of them feature freshly grated nutmeg, a 1700s spice mainstay.
Order the Rainwater Punch, a dry Madeira-based toddy featuring Becherovka, a clove-rich Czech spirit that tastes like a grown-up Fireball. Served in a small glass punch cup and finished with freshly grated nutmeg and a whole clove, this tipple slowly and simultaneously warms you from the inside out. Sip it as a nightcap or pair it with one of Ashlar’s more decadent small plates, like the foie gras French toast. // Ashlar Restaurant and Bar: 116 S. Alfred St., Alexandria
This month, nine-month-old brewery New District Brewing will release a version of its deep, dark imperial stout aged in Buffalo Trace barrels. The beer, made with three different varieties of roasted and black malt, offers a yeasty nose with chocolate and caramel undertones and a touch of sweetness from the bourbon. With a release of eight barrels of the limited edition Bourbon Aged Imperial Stout, don’t expect it to last more than a few weeks. // New District Brewing: 2709 S. Oakland St., Arlington
Soda nerds, rejoice! Now you too can buy local. Madison-based Mad Hollow Soda has been making its collection of organic, cane sugar-sweetened and caffeine-free craft sodas since last year, with a flavor portfolio spanning traditional, with the pom cola, to fruit-forward flavors, like blueberry ginger ale and citrus lemon lime. This time of year, try the sarsaparilla, which tastes like a heathier version of root beer and is good by itself and mixed with the season’s dark liquors. // Mad Hollow Soda (no storefront)