It’s pumpkin pie spice season again. Good Grief!

Yes, it’s that time of the year: pumpkin time. And while we might all be grieving the loss of the Great Pumpkin (the fabled Peanut’s Halloween cartoon won’t be airing this year on TV) we certainly have more than enough of the gourd to go around: pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pie, the list goes on and on. But what if you don’t particularly like pumpkin?

Maybe it’s because we all get to watch the venerable old squashes decompose right before our eyes on front doorsteps everywhere from late October (Halloween) until late November (Thanksgiving). Or maybe it’s because of the weirdly slimy and stringy interior, orange flesh and fibrous seeds. Or maybe it’s because of the pumpkin’s association with the malevolent jack o’lantern carvings. Who wants to eat that? When it comes to pumpkins in general, many tend to side with Ichabod Crane, because no matter how you carve it, there’s certainly a lot not to like.

But one thing that is hard not to like are the traditional pumpkin spices that most often go with the venerable old marigold cucurbita. Cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and allspice are all delicious, either in combination, or on their own. So delicious in fact that both Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus had set off on their world trekking exploratory voyages (in opposite directions) specifically to find those four ingredients (along with black pepper). Da Gama returned with a full cargo of spices, and Columbus got the consolation prize, returning from the Americas with those continent’s native gourd, the pumpkin.

For all of those out there in a similar boat, we have taken the liberty of assembling a veritable patch of pumpkin spiced cocktails, which are all spice, and no pumpkin. Generously localized for your consumption.  Good grief!

Velvet Bajan*

 1 ½ ounces Batiste Gold Rhum

¾ ounce Geijer California Falernum**

¾ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon hot water

1 lime wheel

Combine hot water and molasses until fully incorporated, let cool. Then combine rhum, Falernum, lime juice and molasses/water mixture in a mixing glass with ice. Shake until cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, floating lime wheel on top.

This cocktail, also known as a Barbados, is most often made with dark rum. Dark rum is not aged rum, it is rum that has had molasses added to it. Our version uses aged rhum (made from free run juice, and not molasses) with a touch of molasses added for color and sweetness.

*“Bajan,” pronounced with a hard “j” is what the inhabitants of Barbados call themselves. It is not to be confused with the Spanish word “Baja” which is pronounced “ba-ha”.

**Velvet falernum is an allspice, clove and mildly gingery tasting liqueur that originally hails from Barbados. Geijer’s San Francisco produced version is available here:

Redheaded Painkiller

1 ½ ounces Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum “Redhead” macadamia nut rum*

3/4 ounce coconut cream

½ ounce pineapple juice

1/8 ounce orange juice

1/8 ounce simple syrup

½ ounce aqua fava

Fresh ground nutmeg

Combine first six ingredients in a shaker and dry shake until foamy. Add ice, shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and dust with nutmeg.

*produced by Marin’s own “Red Rocker” Sammy Hagar.

Ginger Meyer Collins

1 ½ ounces Hanson of Sonoma Organic Ginger vodka*

1 ounce fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice**

½ ounce simple syrup

¾ ounces soda water

1 lime zest

1 lemon zest

1 slice candied ginger

In a shaker combine first three ingredients. Shake to combine. Strain mixture into an ice filled Collins glass, top with soda water and stir. Submerge both citrus zests and garnish with candied ginger.

*Hanson Ginger vodka is seasonal and supplies are limited. If unavailable, any regular vodka with a teaspoon of King Floyd’s Ginger Cocktail syrup (made in Novato) should work.

**Meyer lemons are a Fall/Winter citrus that tastes like a cross between a lemon and an orange.

Cinnamon Sour

1 ½ ounces Cannella Cinnamon Cordial*

½ ounce triple sec

¾ ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice

½ ounce aqua fava

Ground cinnamon

Combine first four ingredients in a shaker glass with ice, shake until cold and foamy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and dust with cinnamon.

*Cannella means “cinnamon” in Italian and is the flagship brand of Cannella Spirits based in San Francisco. A type of Sicilian amaro, it is by far the most cinnamon forward of any amaro we’ve ever tried. More info here: