From muggy to mugs: warm drinks for fall cocktails on the patio

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"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

— L.M. Montgomery, in Anne of Green Gables

In the Autumn, the sun sets earlier and earlier, giving us the opportunity to stargaze with friends long before bedtime. Serving some traditional fall drinks is a great way to host a happy hour out on the patio. The crisp fall air is a welcome break from the muggy summer heat and it is simply invigorating. Fresh air is good for us in all seasons. Grab a few blankets, coffee mugs, throw some sticks in the fire pit and head outside to breathe it all in.

Warm cocktails are basically drinkable desserts. If you are eating indoors, plan to take the party outdoors for the last course. While pineapple and banana are tastes for summer, the flavors for fall are spiced rum, apricot, apple, and of course the ubiquitous but delicious pumpkin spice. If you are looking for something sweeter, spiked hot chocolate might fit the bill.

Warm drink recipes call for a bit more effort than the typical cocktail. After all, there usually is some cooking involved. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Many recipes call for simple ingredients and a slow cooker. Others require the time it takes to bring a concoction to a boil on the stovetop. Making a batch of these fall-treats-for-adults easier than it seems yet is a rare treat for guests. Many variations exist for the following traditional and new colder-weather cocktails (Many of these recipes can be made with or without alcohol):

Apple cider and rum

Apple cider and bourbon

Hot apple martini

Hot buttered rum

Hot toddy

Irish coffee

Mulled wine

Spiked hot chocolate

Spiked pumpkin lattes

Winter sangria

Serve your cocktails on the patio straight from a slow cooker set to “warm.” To go with the drinks, set out some nice and toasty sourdough bread with butter. Crumbs don’t matter much outside, so the crustier the bread, the better. Other bready pastries work too if you’re looking for more sweet tastes to add to the evening. Warm them in the oven and bring them outside in a covered serving dish or an insulated wrapper.

Any simple warm drink and snack will do. Just get out there on the patio and enjoy these lovely autumn nights.