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When fall rolls around, baristas start whipping up pumpkin spice everything. As for New York’s finest bartenders? They possess their own set of preferred ingredients and flavors when concocting fall cocktails.

“Cinnamon, maple syrup, anise, bourbons, and Scotch,” is what Peter Ruppert, the mustachioed barman at East Village restaurant Lucien, reaches for once the leaves start changing colors and clothing gets layered. “Something that breathes in the essence of the season; and hot toddies or warm apple cider—you know they will work.”

Ruppert, who previously worked at the Meatpacking District’s iconic Pastis until it closed in 2014, is happy to offer up his list of fall cocktail destinations with talented full-service mixologists. “Go to places that reinvent themselves often, and which stay really focused on putting together seasonal cocktails, like Death and Company,” he says. In fact, the innovative East Village mixology haven has served up a pumpkin puree and rum-driven Patois Punch, and changes its cocktail menu—viewable online—quarterly, according to season.

Conversely, you can’t go wrong with quintessential New York classics like Tavern On The Green, surrounded by the season’s changing colors. A quartet of cocktails named after New York’s boroughs grace the Tavern’s Fall 2018 beverage menu, including the “Queens” with Bootlegger Vodka, Velvet Falernum, hibiscus syrup, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice.

“For a place so corny, they always do a phenomenal job,” Ruppert says. “All their bartenders are crackerjack, and there’s a guy with a top hat at the door. Everyone wants to be greeted by a guy in a top hat who calls you ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am!’”

Ruppert is personally fond of bars in Brooklyn, too. He recommends Hotel Delmano (“It’s not a hotel”), a rustic-style cocktail bar which divides its menu between classic and seasonal boozy creations, and which also boasts an equally seasonal raw oyster bar.

Ruppert also recommends Williamsburg’s Walter Foods. “I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that my hot toddy is one of the best you’re going to find in the city. However, I think the hot toddy at Walter Foods in Williamsburg is close competition. Robust and good-looking, at one of the coziest bars in Brooklyn.”

We convinced Ruppert to share his Lucien hot toddy recipe, which he scrawled by hand on a tabletop, so you can whip or, better yet, steam one yourself on lazier days.

“My recipe calls for piping hot water to be added and stirred,” he says. “So a couple minutes to simmer is fine. However, I usually steam mine with an espresso machine, so maybe an extra minute to set would do.”

Peter Ruppert’s Lucien Hot Toddy

2 oz. bourbon

1 oz. lemon juice

¾ oz. honey

fresh ginger

herbal tea

add piping hot water

decorate with cinnamon stick and star anise

Words Lawrence Ferber

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