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Tacoma's best drinks for the fall? Try a hot toddy, more

Warm up the season with libations

Drinks turn hot and hearty during the fall says local alcohol experts. File photo

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When it comes to fall-themed drinks, one reigns supreme: the infamous pumpkin spice latte, but enough ink has been spilled on the PSL and its cultural baggage. Besides, why waste time discussing a novelty coffee flavor when autumn is a fantastic time for adult beverages? And not just beer, either: We're talking liquor and cocktails. Finding fall brews is simple - just see what your local craft brewery has new. Mixed drinks are a completely different story, however, so we recruited Kevin Dodds, bartender at 1022 South J, one of Tacoma's finest craft cocktail and liquor bars, to guide us through this wonderful world of fall libations.

If there's one perfect word to describe autumn's drink selections, it would be "warm." Many of the bar's mixed drinks during the season often are served hot and have a bit of a comfort feel to them, Dodds said. Take hot buttered rum, which literally is just warmed rum mixed with cinnamon, sugars, and a whole mess of butter. Or of course, because even alcoholic drinks can't avoid pumpkin flavoring during the equinox, there's Autumn Splendor, which Dodds said is a particularly popular drink during the fall.

"(It) uses cereal milk (ed. note: this is literally just milk strained out of cereal) with pumpkin puree and bourbon, with some nutmeg on top and egg white," Dodds said. "It's just a nice, warming cocktail for the season."

Dodds made sure to clarify that many of fall's drink ideas actually have come from customers themselves and not what was on the menu specifically. Having been a bartender for many years, he has learned a variety of concoctions by heart based on sheer repetition.

"One big one is a hot spice toddy, for sure," he said. " We use tea rather than hot water, and add allspice liqueur, which is a bit different than a typical hot toddy. There's a little extra flavor in there."

If there's one big, overarching flavor for the fall season, it's the aforementioned allspice liqueur. When asked what allspice added in terms of flavor, Dodds let me smell it, and it was abundantly clear: pumpkin pie. Seriously, if you hate the taste or smell of pumpkin, maybe hibernating until December is a smart idea, because there is no more quintessential fall spice.

Other common flavorings for autumn are nut-based, such as macadamia and hazelnut.

Dodds also emphasized the allure of bourbon during harvest season.

"First of all, everybody drinks bourbon in Washington. It's the liquor. It's a warming one, good for fall and winter," he said.

Finally, when asked what his personal favorite fall drink was, Dodds said he'd go with a classic.

"I'd probably actually order an old Blood and Sand. It's a sweeter version, but it's a Scotch, so it's got that really smoky feel, orange juice, Cherry Heering, and sweet vermouth. It's a nice balance between the sweet and strong, and perfect on a cold day."

1022 South J, Open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, 4 p.m. to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, 1022 South J St., Tacoma, 253.627.8588,

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