In honor of National Vodka Day, I am sharing a few of my favorite fall cocktail recipes. A martini is a tricky cocktail to perfect. Too much ice and your drink is diluted, too little and you get a warm “meh” mix. Master Distiller of Ketel One Bob Nolet (11th generation of Nolets to run the distillery, 325+ years of experience) shared some tips with me that I incorporated into my fall cocktail recipes.
Martini Must: Quality Vodka
High-quality vodka is the most important part of a fabulous fall martini. It is the base upon which all other components rest, and honestly…bad vodka just never tastes good. Get off that bottom shelf, your taste buds (and head the next morning) will thank you. I would rather have one excellent, high-quality martini than three mediocre ones.
The best martini is the one that a skilled bartender makes you. It starts with a quality vodka, which to me means a base spirit that is crisp instead of sharp or overpowering. It stands on its own in flavor, with only a splash of dry vermouth. -Bob Nolet
A premium, crisp vodka comes from using high-quality ingredients. For a vodka made from wheat, this means non-GMO wheat, and particularly “winter wheat.” This wheat is planted in the fall, hibernates in the winter, and continues to grow in the early spring. Water is another component, and it needs to be properly filtered for purity.
Martini Must: Stirred vs. Shaken
According to James Bond, shaken is the preferred method, but professionals say stirred is the way to go. Shaking a martini can over-dilute the mixture and create cloudiness. Shaking is for cocktails that are supposed to be frothy like a daiquiri (although I do love the little ice chunks that float in a seriously shaken martini, but I also like Spaghetti O’s, so there goes my street cred).
Martini Must: Small, Chilled Glass
Chilling your martini glass is an excellent way to keep it cold without diluting the mixture. Also, smaller glasses are better- both to keep your intake down (the point is to sip & enjoy a martini, not gulp it), and keep it cold.
If you’ve got a properly diluted martini, you should never need ice, which is why it’s best served up, and in a chilled martini glass. Serve your martini in a small glass, it will help keep things cold longer. Bigger glasses tend to get warm quicker. -Bob Nolet
Martini Must: Fresh Ingredients
If you are making a martini with vermouth, did you know that vermouth can oxidize? If you keep them in the refrigerator they will stay fresher longer.
Any other ingredients that you include need to be fresh as well. For me, this means fresh-squeezed juices, nothing re-constituted. If you are making big-batch cocktails, use Twisted Alchemy curated, cold-pressed juices. They use the Brix (Bx) measurement to maintain the sweetness consistency in every bottle, and their juicing and preservation process allows the juices to maintain a refrigerated shelf life of 120 days. There are no added sugars or preservatives, just pure juice, and are used in many upscale bars and restaurants. Here are their current offerings, available for home delivery:
- Passion Fruit
- Ruby Red Grapefruit
- Eureka Lemon
- Persian Lime
- Blood Orange
The company was started by a friend of mine in my hometown, gotta love an incredible LOCAL company!
Fall Cocktail Recipes
Now, to add the flavors of fall to your high quality, chilled vodka! For me, fall means cinnamon, apples, chai, and pumpkin. Here are some recipes that evoke the flavors and feelings of fall, using Ketel One.
I was on my way to check out at Target and spied a box of Tazo Classic Chai Latte Concentrate. I grabbed it because I cannot make a chai latte at home to save my life, but LOVE ordering them at coffee houses. I decided to incorporate this into a martini because vodka + chai latte = heaven.
This concentrate is VERY sweet and contains a lot of sugar, so next time I will b ordering the Chai Tea Concentrate from Jo Snow. I have used many of her syrups in cocktails in the past- she makes everything by hand in small batches, and supplies to many of the independent coffee & tea shops and restaurants in Chicago. This particular concentrate was a collaboration with Two Brothers Coffee Roasters to concoct this particular blend. If you are just looking for a chai spice to add to your black tea, pick this up at The Spice House.
Chai Latte Martini
- 1.5 oz. Ketel One Vodka
- 2 oz. Chai Concentrate
- 1 oz. heavy cream
- Cinnamon sugar for rim
Wet rim of a chilled martini glass with chai concentrate and dip into cinnamon/sugar blend. Mix vodka, chai concentrate and heavy cream with ice and stir. Strain into prepared martini glass.
I was at a new vegan restaurant this weekend called Spirit Elephant and they had an incredibly flavorful drink called Original Cinn. It used vodka, an apple cinnamon reduction and lemon juice. I wanted to re-create this because it screamed fall without being too sweet or overpowering. I have always wanted to do an apple cider martini but couldn’t figure out how to conentrate the cider flavor more- it always got dilluted by the vodka. I figured out that you can use this apple syrup recipe instead of just cider!
Apple Cinnmaon Sip
- Apple Syrup (get recipe here); amount depends upon taste preference
- 1.5 oz. Ketel One Vodka
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Dried apple slice for garnish (optional)
Fill rocks glass with ice. Mix syrup and vodka in a separate glass and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Pour over ice. Garnish with dried apple slice.
A Moscow Mule is my go-to when I want something in my comfort zone. The key is making it spicy rather than sweet. The addition of apple cider kicks up the fall factor of this flavorful cocktail. This is a crowd-pleaser, perfect for serving at your Halloween bash this year!
Apple Cider Moscow Mule
- 2 oz. Ginger Beer
- 1.5 oz. Ketel One Vodka
- 2 oz. fresh apple cider
- 1/2 lime or .5 oz of Persian Lime Juice
- Apple wedge for garnish (optional)
Add ice to a copper mug. Mix vodka, cider and juice from 1/2 lime in a separate glass; stir. Pour over ice, add ginger beer to fill. Stir and garnish with apple wedge.
Cheers to making the most of the season and mixing up fall cocktail recipes!
Disclosure: I received Ketel One products for review purposes. All opinions are honest and my own as always. This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase through my site.