Fall is in the air and that means cozy sweaters, leaves changing colors and visits to pumpkin patches. It also means the arrival of Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities with family and friends. We sat down with Virgin Hotels San Francisco’s Megan Abraham, Lead Bartender of Commons Club, and Patrick Smith, Head Bartender at Everdene, to get their tricks and treats when it comes to entertaining (and being entertained!) this fall.
Snag these 3 Fall Punchbowl Cocktail Recipes
As a general rule of thumb when creating a large batch cocktail, Abraham says, “Think in terms of proportions—not measurements. You’re always going to want about two parts booze, one part sweet, one part sour, and one to two parts carbonation or dilution to taste.”
Smith swears by his Apple Cider Mule for a perfect large batch fall cocktail:
- Two parts Bulleit bourbon
- One-part unpasteurized apple cider
- One-part fresh lime juice
- Mix in punch bowl and serve on ice with a top off of ginger beer
For gin lovers, try this fall-inspired large batch cocktail by Abraham:
- Two-parts gin with a splash of Chartreuse
- One-part rosemary syrup for sweet (made by steeping rosemary in hot water for five minutes and then adding equal part sugar)
- One-part pomegranate and lime for sour
- Top with one to two parts prosecco to open up the flavors
Or for a hot cocktail, Abraham offers:
- Two-parts whiskey
- One-part lemon
- One-part honey
- One to two parts spiced apple cider
For an extra fancy touch, add a cheese cloth satchel of winter spices like clove, cinnamon, star anise, orange peel and ginger. “It will fill your home with the most magical holiday aroma,” says Abraham.
Hors d’oeuvre your guests will devour
Abraham loves to prep easy and delicious grab-and-go hors d’ oeuvre when entertaining at home. In addition to a cheese plate, some of her favorite concoctions include Cape Cod chips topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, a spoonful of caviar and a single drop of Sriracha. “A crowd pleaser!” she insists.
For a seasonal fall treat perfect for Thanksgiving or Halloween, she loves roasted beets with goat cheese on homemade crostini. The prep is simple. She says, roast the beets, then marinate them in olive oil, orange zest, and raspberry vinegar, blend some goat cheese with crème fraiche and lemon juice—and voila!
While Abraham says she typically preps snacks ahead of her guest’s arrival, she’s happy to put them to work with simple assembly line tasks, like chopping vegetables or arranging crostini. “People love to offer to help,” she says. “And I’ve noticed they have more fun when they get involved.”
Interactive Costume Inspo!
If you’re still brainstorming your Halloween costume ideas, take a cue from Abraham and Smith. Last year, Abraham dressed up as doctor and nurse with her best friend, donning IV drip cocktails. They handed out blood orange Negroni blood bags, medicine vials filled with “some of our favorite witches brew,” and boozy Jello booster shot syringes. This year, Smith is planning to dress up as Donnie Darko in a skeleton jumpsuit.
Fall Cocktails to try at Virgin Hotels San Francisco
If you swing by Virgin Hotels San Francisco this fall, be sure to pop into Abraham and Smith’s bars. At Everdene, look for the Atomic Blonde, Smith’s riff on a white Negroni. At Commons Club, try the horchata and White Russian-inspired Gorrillaz cocktail rimmed with the restaurant’s Black Out cake crumbles. Abraham says, “The flavor combination is cinnamon, chocolate, holiday spice and cream—and the result is divine!”