Fall Drinks: Late September Mai Tai (and 2 more!)

When you think of fall drinks, you probably don’t think of the Mai Tai. You think apple cider, mulled wine, and pumpkin spice, right? Well, hold on, because I’ve got a Mai Tai riff that’s absolutely perfect for the fall season. And keep reading for two more fall-themed cocktails you’ll love!

mai tai cocktail

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What is the original Mai Tai recipe?

As with many cocktails, the origin of the Mai Tai is somewhat disputed. But the prevailing belief is that the Mai Tai was invented by Victor J. Bergeron – better known as “Trader Vic” – in 1944. This simple drink, made with lime juice, orange curaçao, orgeat syrup, and simple syrup, was meant to highlight the flavor of a 17-year-old Jamaican rum. It is said that when Trader Vic presented his cocktail to some Tahitian friends, one exclaimed, “Maita’i roa a’e,” which translates to “out of this world! The best!” And that is where the name “Mai Tai” (“the best”) came from.

You may know the Mai Tai as a tropical, Hawaiian cocktail with pineapple and orange juices and a paper umbrella garnish. This version came later, around 1954, when Trader Vic sweetened the drink up to make it more tourist-friendly to his patrons at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

If you want more info, click here for the original Mai Tai recipe.

Fall-Themed Cocktails with Rum

We were gifted a bottle of Ron Viejo de Caldas rum, an aged, golden rum from Colombia. It’s a lower-proof rum at 40% ABV. The taste is smooth and dry, and my nose detects notes of coffee. I can think of lots of ways to use this rum, but for this bottle, I was focused on fall cocktails.

Since the Mai Tai is a classic, tropical rum cocktail, I wanted to create a riff that shifted it to a warmer, more autumnal taste. I decided to substitute the lime and pineapple juices for apple cider and orange juice. And, oh does it work! It’s not tart like summer, it’s smooth like September.

orange juice pouring into jigger

To make this cocktail, you’ll need two ounces of golden rum (I used Ron Viejo de Caldas), one ounce of fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1/2 ounce orgeat syrup (almond syrup), two dashes of orange bitters, sparkling apple cider, and crushed ice.

The Late September Mai Tai is simple to build. Mix all ingredients, except the sparkling cider, in a cocktail shaker with a large handful of crushed ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker is nice and frosty.

Pour everything into a stemless wine glass or rocks glass, add a little more crushed ice, and top with about two or three ounces of sparkling cider. Garnish with dehydrated apple and orange slices.

I’ve also got the perfect meal to go with this drink: check out the award-winning Chorizo and Black Bean Chili recipe from Sip + Sanity! I loooove a good, hearty chili and a cocktail on a crisp autumn day.

Apple Basil Mojito

After creating the Late September Mai Tai, I got together with Chrissy and we made two more cocktails with our bottle of Ron Viejo de Caldas rum: an Apple Basil Mojito and a Smoked Cider Toddy.

There are two things we have in abundance right now in our kitchen: apples and basil. If you’re still hanging on to summer, maybe a low-calorie Apple Basil Mojito is the drink for you!

apple, basil and rum

Start by chopping six or seven fresh basil leaves. Dice a small apple, then muddle well or pulse it in a blender so it’s partially crushed up. Add the basil and apple to a cocktail shaker.

Now you’re going to use our skinny “mojito without mint” recipe. Add 1.5 ounces of rum, 1 packet of Stevia, 1 ounce of lime juice, and a couple ice cubes to the shaker with the apple and basil. Shake until cold, then pour into a tall Collins-type glass. Add another couple ice cubes and top with seltzer or club soda. (Read about the difference between seltzer and club soda here!) Give it a good stir and enjoy!

apple basil mojito

Now… this drink is chunky. I don’t really like chunks of anything in my drinks, so we made a second one that strained out the basil and apple pieces. I taste-tested both and while I prefer the mouthfeel of the strained cocktail, the chunky one had more flavor. The choice is yours!

Smoked Cider Toddy

About a year ago, Chrissy and I discovered a smoked cocktail at Boardroom Spirits in Allentown, PA. Chrissy’s husband especially loved the cinnamon-smoked bourbon drink and bought his own smoker – which we get to play with when creating cocktails!

So our next fall cocktail is the Smoked Cider Toddy. It’s super easy to throw together in the microwave, or you can do it stove-top for a larger batch. But your first step is to get out the smoker (go ahead, buy it here – you know you want to!), fill it with some cinnamon stick pieces, and smoke the inside of the mug you will be serving in. Fill it with smoke, then cover the mug with a plate to trap the smoke in. This will “wash” the inside of the mug with a cinnamon, smoky flavor.

Next, prepare your drink. Warm a half a cup of apple cider in the microwave or saucepan. Add one tablespoon of honey, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, and 1.5 ounces of rum. If you’re making more than one, just multiply the recipe by however many drinks you need.

Take the plate off the mug and quickly pour the cider/rum mixture into the glass. And don’t forget to add a cinnamon stick for extra flavor.

smoked cider rum toddy

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Fall-Themed Rum Cocktails
mai tai cocktail

Late September Mai Tai

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

This fall-themed riff on the classic Mai Tai is made with golden rum, orange juice, and sparkling apple cider.


  • 2 oz golden rum
  • 1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 oz orgeat syrup (almond syrup)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • sparkling apple cider
  • crushed ice.


  1. Combine all ingredients, except the sparkling cider, in a cocktails shaker with the crushed ice.
  2. Shake until the cocktail shaker is nice and frosty.
  3. Pour into a stemless wine glass or rocks glass, add a little more crushed ice, and top with sparkling apple cider.
  4. Garnish with a dehydrated apple slice and orange wheel.
  5. Please drink responsibly.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 373Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 35gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information is estimated and should only be used as a general guideline.

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