SIOUX CITY | You don’t have to be a classically trained bartender to make the perfect fall drink, according to Austin Jeffries, bar manager of The Diving Elk in downtown Sioux City.
“The trick is to start with what you like and experiment, experiment, experiment,” he said. “Don’t overcomplicate it.”
“Basically find fall fruits, anything in season, and go from there,” added CJ Perera, owner.
Perera said that pears, apples and cranberries, in addition to spices like cinnamon and all spice, can be combined with dark liquors such as apple brandy, bourbon and scotch to make a drink that complements the season.
“Using fresh ingredients is the most important part,” he said. “You always want to make sure you are using proper technique and you have the right balance. You don’t want it too sweet, too tart, too strong.”
Perera also noted that fall is a great time of the year to make homemade liqueurs.
“Everything is being harvested so it’s the perfect time to make your own,” he said. “You can go to the farmer’s market and get a bunch of fruit and you’re set.”
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In addition to the fruit, the maker would need Everclear, water and sugar.
“Use the water to dilute the Everclear to the proof you want and add some sugar and fruit,” Perera said. “Fruit on its own has a limited shelf life, but if you make it into liqueur, it can last pretty much forever. Plus, then you get real flavor rather than artificial from store bought drinks.”
Jeffries and Perera, each with about 10 years in the bartending business, recommended the Sioux City sangria and the Lion’s Tail for fall recipes.
“The sangria is nice because you can have a party with it and make a big batch,” Jeffries said.
They prefer the sophisticated flavor of the Lion’s Tail, however.
“I do like the bourbon drinks,” Jeffries said.
As far as non-alcoholic drinks, Jeffries and Perera recommended apple ciders and juices in addition to various aromatic teas.
"There are options for everyone," said Perera.
"But how are you going to stave off a cold without a little bit of alcohol?" he joked.