When the colder weather hits, my beverage focus tends to shift to recipes that will help ward off the chill. Its deep flavor and rich texture make bourbon a natural choice. Whether coupled with maple syrup and ginger beer in a Nor’easter or mixed with bitters and sugar for a classic Old Fashioned, bourbon covers a lot of winter cocktail ground.

Infusing flavors into your favorite spirits is an easy and delicious way to add nuance to your cocktails, in this case accenting the inherent vanilla and spice of the bourbon with the warm tones of sugar pumpkin. It takes a week or two to make, but then it’s easy to keep on hand all season long. Pumpkin spice lattes? Leave that to the fast-food chains. You’ve made something far tastier.

  • 1 small sugar pumpkin, peeled, split, seeds and pith scooped out*
  • 1 750-ml bottle of Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed

In an air-tight glass jar or non-reactive container, mix all ingredients.

Cover tightly and store in a cool, dry place for up to three weeks, gently shaking the jar every few days. (The longer you age it, the mellower the flavor will be.)

Strain out the pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla.

*For a more intense pumpkin flavor, roast the chunks at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool, then continue with the recipe.