The Cocoa Cup, at the Iron Shoe Distillery in Niles

Feel that snap in the air? It’s Autumn! in Michigan’s Sunset Coast, that means crisp air and crunchy leaves – and in our local bars and distilleries, you’ll find fall-inspired cocktails laced with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, decadent chocolate and cream, and best yet, the fruits of autumn’s harvest: pear, apple, and cranberry. 

Sip your way through our region’s most beautiful season with these autumn-inspired specialty craft cocktails:

Iron Shoe Distillery, Niles

All spirits are distilled in-house, and Oh My Gourd do they have a selection for you. Good luck trying to choose your first drink, ’cause you really will want them all. 

Son of a Gun: This creative spin on a White Russian includes vodka, bourbon cream liqueur, fresh cream, pumpkin pie spice, crushed graham cracker rim, topped with whipped cream and served with a smoking cinnamon stick. Be the first to try it when it makes its debut this Saturday, October 19 at 
This cocktail will be making its debut this coming Saturday, October 19th at the PetPalooza Howl-o-ween Party, a fundraiser for the Humane Society including a pet costume contest, live music, fall-inspired drinks and more.  Afterward, cruise the streets in downtown Niles in costume for the Boos Cruise, led by Inertia CycleWorks.  

Also Try: the Fireside Toasty Toddy with wood-aged vodka, pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, and lemon, served hot, the Hayride: white rum, apple cider, cinnamon syrup, and a splash of lemon, topped with a cinnamon stick, or the Cocoa Cup (pictured at top of article) containing bourbon cream liqueur, hot chocolate, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, and whipped cream – served hot. 

Bistro On The Boulevard, St. Joseph

Imagine sitting on the patio, overlooking the Bluff; the sky is greying just a bit, and a cool breeze is rolling off of Lake Michigan. Pumpkins and bright-colored mums decorate the sidewalk, and with every sip of your decadently perfect cocktail, you smile. Try these two for the perfect fall evening: 

Spiced Pear Gin Fizz: Tangueray gin, spiced pear, and soda create a fizzy and refreshing fall-inspired take on a classic cocktail, and Cranberry Bourbon Mule: Ginger beer, Journeyman Featherbone bourbon, cranberry juice, fresh lime – what’s not to love? 

OCG from Journeyman Distillery

Journeyman Distillery, Three Oaks 

What’s the true flavor of fall? Apple, I say! (Fight me.)  Bright, crisp, sweet – apple is refreshing, warming, and comforting all at once, and Journeyman’s hot apple cocktail, made with their made-in-house Old Country Goodness apple cider liqueur, featuring Michigan apple juice and cider, Journeyman W.R. White Whiskey and a secret blend of spices, when served hot, this bevvie checks all the boxes for the perfect autumn adult sipper. 

Bread + Bar, Benton Harbor

Riverfront views feature brightly-colored leaves tumbling past the large picture windows, the autumn waves gently rocking the sailboats and barges back and forth before their long winter naps. Best yet, Bread+Bar’s warm lighting sets the mood for a soul-warming sipping session. Here are two don’t-miss autumn cocktails: Corpse Reviver: gin, lillet, cointreau, lime, absinthe, and Blood Orange Martini: citron vodka, cointreau, lime, blood orange, cranberry.

These are just a few of our favorite spots (and beverages). Where’s your favorite place to celebrate Fall with a tasty beverage? Have an especially delicious, locally-crafted cocktail or mocktail to recommend? Let us know: Share your favorite on FACEBOOK .

Jocelyne Y Tuszynski