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THE SEASON
The cocktails of autumn

  • The bar at Morimoto, where there is a fine selection of shochu and sake. But Morimoto also puts its own spin on cocktails, making it an intriguing place to try different combinations of flavors. (JEFF KAN LEE / The Press Democrat)

Fall can be so confusing. One day it's Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and the next, spring break in Tijuana. What to do about a cocktail then? Go for cinnamon and clove or fresh limes and blue agave?

Here in seasonally minded and oh so creative Wine Country, there's lots of places to choose from for a fall drink.

Agave: This Oaxacan eatery in Healdsburg's Safeway shopping mall has a host of single-village mescals behind the bar, perfect for sipping. But when it's just one of those fall days when a little pick-me-up is in order, come by for the Michelada, a blend of Tecate beer and tomato juice, shaken and served with a splash of lime juice and served in a frozen, salt-rimmed glass, equal parts cocktail and cure.

1063 Vine St., Healdsburg, 433-2411, agavefreshmex.com.

Angèle Restaurant & Bar: Napa's Angèle has always hit all the right notes in terms of food, drink and ambiance. It's a riverside oasis and finely tuned spot for Francophiles, meaning it's always been the go-to for pastis and, more recently, absinthe-based cocktails. It's hard to argue with a current favorite, though. It's the English Garden, made with Charbay Green Tea vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, apple juice, lemon juice and cucumber, a refreshing elixir for fall.

540 Main St., Napa, 252-8115, angelerestaurant.com.

Girl & The Fig: Sondra Bernstein's Sonoma mainstay is always about the fresh and the now, so it's no surprise that the drink of the moment is its Garden Margarita, made with tequila, radishes, Domaine Canton ginger liqueur, lime and lemon verbena. It's a testament to the bounty of radishes and lemon verbena still coming out of the restaurant's gardens.

110 West Spain St., Sonoma, 933-3000, thegirlandthefig.com.

Goose & Gander: At master bartender Scott Beattie's St. Helena stomping grounds, you could just sit back and invite him and his fellow bartenders to create something inspired by the day of the week (Mondays are good for fresh herbs and edible flowers) or stop dithering and order a Bali Spice Old Fashioned. It's a combination of St. George Breaking & Entering Bourbon, clove, cinnamon, star anise, orange and bitters.

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