The pumpkin-spiced Manhattan at Oceanaire is a secret. Shhh.

These fall metro Atlanta cocktails are smoky, spicy and packing a punch

6 local cocktails to savor this fall

Any other time of year, brown cocktails might seem drab, but, as leaves scatter and the air becomes chillier, there is nothing like these sips to warm from within. Bartenders have a way of capturing the essence of fall with a little spice, a little sweetness and plenty of smoothness. Take inspiration from falling leaves and the nip in the air with these autumnal drinks at Atlanta restaurants and bars. 

The West Ellijay at Sweet Auburn BBQ is as cozy as a sweater.

From orchard apples to ginger and sage, there are plenty of fall flavors that deserve as much adoration as pumpkin spice. Just like Sweet Auburn BBQ’s smoked meats get you fired up for fall, so, too, its West Ellijay cocktail. It’s like a trek up to the North Georgia mountains with bourbon, apple cider, peche (a liqueur made from peaches), lemon and ginger. Like the bartenders say, “it makes you want to wear flannel.” 

Sweet Auburn BBQ. 656 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta. 678-515-3550,

Campfire-scented magic at Overdrive Lounge.

When the air gets chilly, it’s fun to slip into a sweater and sit outside near a campfire. Take that experience up a notch at Overdrive Lounge at Solis Two Porsche Drive. The rooftop bar overlooks the Porsche handling course, as well as runways at Hartsfield-Jackson. In their Smokey Haze cocktail, campfire-like smokiness is aided by mescal and bourbon. Orgeat imparts a nutty flavor that is further enhanced by the cut of sturdy, herbal amaro. Bright lemon juice and infused wood smoke seal the deal. 

Overdrive Lounge. 2 Porsche Drive, Atlanta. 470-466-3300,

Bar Mercado's Louisiana Purchase is rich, cool and complex, with bitter herbal notes.

Looking for an autumnal sipper that’s worldly? Bar Mercado’s Louisiana Purchase integrates whiskey, French Armagnac, Hoodoo chicory liqueur and Italian Amaro Averna. It’s rich, cool and complex, with bitter herbal notes. The liqueur and amaro are a little sweet, a little bitter, and very complex, lending chicory and orange flavors respectively. It’s a drink to linger over with a meat and cheese board, or a nerdy discussion of Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon. 

Bar Mercado. 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 404-480-4866,

It’s a little like a Manhattan and a little like a riff on Remember the Maine. Bourbon shines in the soothing, mellow Adulting in Manhattan at 9 Mile Station. Cloves and citrus in Alessio Torino vermouth, cherry, herbal absinthe and orange fuse into a boozy and delicately bittersweet cocktail. Bonus: You can sip it in Adirondack chairs near fire pits on a rooftop that has one of the best views in Atlanta. You may wind up with rosy cheeks from the cold air or the warming bourbon, and a smile on your face from watching the sunset over the city.

9 Mile Station. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 770-999-1532,

The rim of Casi Cielo's Trajinera is coated in grasshopper salt.

At newly opened Casi Cielo in Sandy Springs, they celebrate the traditional flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico. Conjuring the grassy hillsides where agave is harvested, the Trajinera is an interplay of smoky mezcal, dark beer and chamoy — a savory Mexican sauce made with pickled plums. Grasshopper salt rims the glass, adding an earthy spiciness, with a zesty lime punch that Casi Cielo calls “an umami bomb.” I’d pair it with charcoal prawns for an extra cozy embrace of smokiness. 

Casi Cielo. 6125 Roswell Road, Atlanta. 404-549-9411,

If you truly want to embrace and revel in pumpkin, we’ll let you in on a little secret that’s not on the menu. Imagine the subtly sweet flavors and spices of pumpkin pie, intertwined with the scent of barrel oak, in a glass. That’s exactly what you get in the Oceanaire Seafood Room’s pumpkin-spiced Manhattan, which mingles pumpkin-spiced whisky (Canadian), Brandy & Benedictine liqueur (B&B), sweet vermouth and a dash of Angostura bitters. A marinated Luxardo is the cherry on the bottom. 

The Oceanaire Seafood Room. 1100 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-475-2277,


More metro Atlanta cocktails

Read the 2018 AJC Fall Dining Guide: Dining on Buford Highway  

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