11 Essential Cocktails for Your September Parties

By Olivia French

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Image: Liquor.com / Tim Nusog


They’ll see you through the change of seasons.

As the days get shorter, we dream of sweater weather and cozying up with our favorite fall cocktails. But September isn’t done with its warm days just yet. These 11 recipes, from Margarita riffs to apple-fueled creations, will bridge the change in seasons and see you through all of September.


1. Death in the Afternoon

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This potent combination of absinthe and Champagne was created by Ernest Hemingway and shares a name with his 1932 book about Spanish bullfighting. Trust an author renowned as much for his drinking as for his writing to come up with such a sophisticated mixture.

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2.Negroni

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Negroni Week, which usually falls in June, has been switched to September for 2021. So while that’s the official time for enjoying this classic cocktail (particularly at participating bars, which will donate money to charity for each Negroni purchase), there’s really no wrong time to drink the century-old combination of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.

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3. Black Mole Margarita

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Orlando Franklin McCray, the bar director at Nightmoves in Brooklyn, created this cocktail that puts mezcal front and center in a Margarita variation, along with black-cocoa-and-orange syrup and a few dashes of mole bitters, all topped with soda water.

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4. Espress Ya’self

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If you’re thrilled about the recent resurgence of the Espresso Martini, try this take created by New York City bar pro Anthony Baker, which replaces the usual vodka, Kahlúa, and espresso with agave spirits, cold-brew coffee, and intense cold-brew coffee liqueur. Vanilla extract and chocolate and firewater bitters add a touch of intrigue. Finish it all with edible glitter for a show-stopping drink.

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5. Chrysanthemum

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Dry vermouth gets the spotlight it deserves in this century-old classic, joined by the intriguingly herbaceous Benedictine, plus a few dashes of absinthe to sharpen everything in this bright-yet-complex cocktail.

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6. Fall from the Tree

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If back-to-school season has you dreaming of autumn apples, try this recipe bar pro Jim Kearns created at The Happiest Hour in New York City. Your choice of applejack, bourbon or scotch is the backbone for the autumnal flavors of fresh apple juice (either juiced yourself or from a specialty market, not the average grocery store variety!) and homemade cinnamon syrup, while aromatic bitters add depth.

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7. French Harvest

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This recipe is a fall spin on a French 75. The typical gin, simple syrup and lemon juice are all here, but the Champagne is swapped out in favor of dry sparkling apple cider. The resulting cocktail is just as bubbly and refreshing as the original, but with a flavor that will take you all the way through fall and winter.

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8. Sloe Gin Fizz

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As the most classic way to employ sloe gin, this fruity cooler is perfect for early-fall porch sipping. Simply shake together sloe gin, simple syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice, then top with club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and cherry.

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9. Applejack Rabbit

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While this drink first appeared in print in 1927, this take from bar pro Jim Meehan calls for more lemon juice than the original, bringing additional brightness to the combination of Laird’s bonded apple brandy, orange and lemon juices and Grade B maple syrup.

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10. Trinidad Sour

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The warm baking spices of Angostura bitters just scream autumn, and this recipe calls for a full ounce and a half of them in each drink, rather than the dash or two that’s more common in many cocktails. The bitters are joined by rye whiskey, lemon juice, and orgeat to produce a bold and surprisingly delicious mixture.

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11. Figgy Smalls

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A spin on the classic Sidecar, this drink’s delicious flavor lies in the infused cognac it calls for. Dehydrated black mission figs are macerated in the spirit for a few days until it takes on a unique sweet and figgy flavor. The infused liquid is then shaken with Grand Marnier, sugar and lemon and orange juices and served in a vanilla-sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, garnished with a sage leaf for an elegantly delicious sipper.

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