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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, April 22

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Feature Fri Sep 17 2010

Fallin' For Pumpkin Cocktails

When you're cooking not everything turns out just-perfect every time. Sometimes you have a few missteps along the way. The frosting does set up right, you accidentally over salt the soup, or something ends on fire. Well, the same goes for writing. Sometimes what you set out to do... just doesn't happen. My original feature idea fell flat on its face this week. I originally intended to find local bars, restaurants, and coffee houses that had special, Fall-inspired drinks. I didn't care if they were alcoholic or non, I just envisioned a nice map of go-to places across Chicago to satisfy any urge for anything pumpkin, spiced, or mulled AND support a local business.

I called. I tweeted. I facebooked. I asked friends and family. I asked people on the street.

Nada. Zilch. Not one place had anything special on the menu!

When it became apparent my Chicago road map to all Fall drinks wasn't going to happen, I went to Binny's and bought a bottle of pumpkin liqueur and figured, what the heck, I'll make my own Fall drinks.



1 part vodka
1 part pumpkin liqueur
sugar and cinnamon rim
sprinkle of pumpkin spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger)

With only two main ingredients, this martini is pretty much no fuss. Put the vodka and pumpkin liqueur in a shaker with ice. Shake it up! Then dip your martini glass in simple syrup and rim the glass with cinnamon and sugar mix. Stain the vodka-pumpkin mix into your glass, sprinkle the pumpkin spices on top and enjoy!


This martini was intense. It's like a pumpkin explosion in your mouth... which if you like pumpkin -- that's a good thing! There are many variations on this particular cocktail but I chose the straight up version because I didn't have the other ingredients handy. If you add some heavy cream, a cinnamon stick, and a dollop of cream whipped cream then viola! you have a Pumpkin Pie Martini! It sounds delicious and something I'll definitely need to try out closer to Thanksgiving. I found the addition of the pumpkin spices on top to be a little gritty. I'd recommend putting them in the shaker, letting the flavor soak in, then straining well.


1 part tequila
1 ΒΌ parts pumpkin liqueur
3 parts sour mix
sprinkle of pumpkin spices (optional)

Salt the rim of your margarita glass (or tumbler as I used) and set aside. Combine the tequila, pumpkin liqueur, and sour mix into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into your glass. Top the margarita with pumpkin spices if desired and enjoy!


I generally equate tequila with hot summer nights or something to drink on winter vacation but this was a great way to use up my leftover tequila! Perk, this margarita is really good! I enjoyed the drink better without the spices on top -- like the martini, I found the spices a but gritty. This drink is an A+ in my book!

I found these recipes on the back of the bottle of Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur and there are ton more on the website. There is also fun website called Cocktail Builder where you can search for drinks with the ingredients you have.

Oh and if you know a local spot that has a Fall-inspired drink, please share it with me, I still believe these drinks are out there!

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Kelly / September 19, 2010 9:53 AM

Thanks. I'm going to try the pumpkin martini. A friend of mine loves everything pumpkin, so this will be perfect.

Jessica D / October 2, 2010 12:04 PM

Thank you for the recipes and the cocktail builder link, great info!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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