There is a lot to look forward to when the fall season rolls around – for many, there is so much to look forward to that they cannot pick just one aspect of the season to put on a pedestal above the rest.
For some people, nothing is more representative of the season than a handful of quintessential fall beverages,both alcoholic and not.
Though autumn doesn’t officially start until Sept. 22, it’s impossible to ignore the signs of its coming: the leaves are beginning to turn crisp and fade from their rich, deciduous greens into a harmony of autumnal hues, the temperature is dropping and as it does, sweaters and jackets will undoubtedly be appearing in shops around New England very shortly.
With the fall season nipping at summer’s heels, local and chain coffee shops alike are serving up drinks in accordance with the flavors of fall. Fliers for pumpkin spice coffees and lattes are plastered on glass doors and shop windows on every street corner. Accompanying these drinks are matching pastries, including pumpkin scones, muffins and cookies.
Perhaps the reason people look forward to these treats is because they are traditionally only available in the months that make up the fall season. This is when pumpkins and apples, which make up the bulk of drinks and foods that are endemic to autumn, are in season or the most fresh. Pumpkin and apple drinks and foods are part of the reason New Englanders look forward to fall so fervently.
Chain cafes, coffee shops and eateries tend to offer the same specials every year. Starbucks is known for its pumpkin spice latte and salted caramel mocha while Panera is also gearing up to serve its own pumpkin beverage. Panera will also be serving sandwiches to complement its pumpkin cookies.
But local cafes will also be serving their own signature fall drinks and snacks. One Rao’s customer, who went to the cafe with a friend who ordered a chocolate chip pumpkin biscuit, said that “it looked and smelled inviting” on a review posted to yelp.com. Such seems to be the consensus of the menu options at Rao’s.
The decreasing temperature tends to drive people toward warm beverages over cold, be it hot coffee over iced coffee or hot tea over its iced counterpart. Arguably the most popular cold-weather drink has for decades or more been hot chocolate. A standard spin on the drink during the fall (and especially during the winter holidays) is mint hot chocolate. The 21+ crowd can enjoy hot chocolate with a twist by adding a bit of peppermint schnapps.
While hot chocolate is the staple for cold weather, there can be only one most popular hot, seasonal drink for this season: hot cider.
The drink is available everywhere you turn during the fall season. Different cafes, restaurants and fairs (let’s not forget about all the seasonal food available at the Big E every year) put their own spins on hot cider with various spices. Even Dunkin’ Donuts has jumped on the bandwagon in years past and attempted to outdo local and corporate competitors with its own hot cider.
Hot cider may be the ultimate standard in fall beverages, but it cannot be seen as the only option: hard cider is available year-round from a number of mass-producers, but a handful of breweries both local and nationwide make specialty hard ciders every fall that beg to be drank alone, or preferably, accompanied by a warm, fresh cider doughnut.
Seasonal hard ciders can be hard to come by in stores. In the last year, a number of hard cider producers have begun to make their drinks more easily available. For example, Liquors 44 now sells Ace Cider in several varieties (including what is arguably their best, the Joker cider) year-round. Some hard cider aficionados argue that some of the best hard cider is available throughout the year and not just during the fall. Despite this assertion, seasonal hard cider begs to be tested, for the drink that is deemed to be “the best” inevitably varies based on the drinker.
There is a lot to enjoy about autumn, whether you want to see the leaves turn or buy a new hoodie as the temperatures drop; just don’t forget to take in all those limited-time-only drinks offered by your local coffee shop or cafe, because you’ll inevitably miss them when winter soon takes over.
Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.