College kitchen: Fall cocktails you won’t find in coffee shops

Yes, there is such a thing as too much pumpkin spice.

Fall cocktails are on display on Tuesday, Sept. 18 in the basement of a Como neighborhood home.

Ellen Schmidt

Fall cocktails are on display on Tuesday, Sept. 18 in the basement of a Como neighborhood home.

Samir Ferdowsi

You drink it in the morning, during lunch and on your way back home. Within a 15-foot radius, its Glade air freshener scent surrounds every coffee shop in town.

When the leaves start to fall, the pumpkin spice aroma rises from our cups. However, it’s time to change it up.

Albeit crazy to some, other fall drinks do exist. Turn up in spirit at your autumn festivities with these boozy alternatives to pum*kin sp*ce — all on a college budget. Featuring the piquant “Scarecrow’s No-Brainer,” the cozy “Chaco Campfire” and the cool weather classic “Manhattan,” these drinks are sure to spice up your night out. 

Scarecrow’s No-Brainer:

A cranberry-orange margarita with a fall zest of apple, the No-Brainer is perfect for those early fall Fridays that have the reminiscence of a scorching summer. Refreshing and full of spice, this drink works best when you do some fresh apple picking before whipping it up.


1.5 parts silver tequila

.5 part Triple Sec

1.5 parts cranberry juice

An apple slice for garnish (add as many as you want, really)

An orange peel for garnish

How to mix it: 

Make sure everything (besides the garnish) is put into a shaker with crushed ice. Shake well and pour into a glass filled with ice. Add the apple slices and rub the orange peel around the rim of the glass to garnish. 

Chaco Campfire:

For those especially cold autumn days — you have to break out the dark liquor for this one. Not just for the “granolas,” this northwoods drink has everything you need for a cozy night in. While you need some relatively unusual ingredients for this one, the Chaco Campfire is a unique and classy alternative for our Minnesota fall nights.


2 oz. (about a shot and a half) of rye whiskey

.25 oz. maple syrup (preferably pure)

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

A scorched orange peel (the best part)

How to mix it:

Add everything except the orange peel into a glass filled with ice. Stir thoroughly. Now comes the fun part: grab a lighter and your orange peel and carefully burn the peel over your cocktail. Let the oil drip into the cup for few seconds. Finally, rub the peel around the rim of your cup before tossing the garnish in with the drink itself. 


The classic drink. Found in the hands of Don Draper and Marilyn Monroe alike, this Big Apple namesake has been shaken in autumn for decades. There’s a tad more gusto in this one compared to the Scarecrow, so be ready for it. The almost-cinnamon aroma will put you in the mood for wool socks and sweaters — maybe even some snowflakes? 


1 part sweet vermouth 

2 parts rye whiskey

3-4 dashes of angostura bitters

An orange peel for garnish 

A maraschino cherry

How to mix it: 

Pour everything but the garnish into a mixer with ice. Shake thoroughly and then pour the soon-to-be cocktail into a glass filled with ice. Rub the orange peel around the glass rim, twist it and stick it on a cocktail toothpick with the cherry. Pop the pick into your glass and enjoy.