Fall is coming, even though it’s still 90 degrees mostly everywhere in the country and we don’t go to school anymore, so time is barely consequential in our lives anymore. But yes, fall is coming! So break out the ole flannel, throw yourself into a pile of leaves and ticks, and go spend eight dollars on a drink that has summoned more white girl jokes than candles, spin class, and Taylor Swift combined. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talkin’ bout Pumpkin Spice.
Now I want to tell you something: you are allowed to like whatever drink you want, and drinking certain beverages doesn’t make you any more lame or cool than the next person. I’ve grown tired of pretending like drinking whiskey is somehow less poisonous or gets me more cred than pounding pink lemonades and vodka. But in my humble opinion, pumpkin spice is fine in coffee, but not that good to put in literally every other fall thing on the planet. Pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice air freshener, pumpkin spice Ibuprofen. It’s too much. Why? Pumpkin doesn’t have that much flavor in the first place. It’s practically a worthless ingredient.
There are better combos out there that get flavor from both sides, and you should be much more excited about those than pumpkin spice. I list them below:
1. . Ginger Pear
Pear is a distinct flavor all of it’s own—as sweet as an apple, but with a more floral finish than a tart one. And ginger adds a spicy, sweet fragrant flavor as well as some health benefits. And you know you or your parents are getting six boxes of those Harry and David wrapped pears for the upcoming season. So use them. Cut them up and put them in mulled wine with some ginger slices. Bake them in a crumble. Buy some ginger tea, ice it, and add some pear juice when you serve it. Top your yogurt with pear and crystallized ginger. There are endless ways to utilize this, and if you’re more of a tea than coffee person, you are in luck.
2. . Cranberry Orange
Cranberries are an underrated fruit because they are so tart, but add them to sweet and fragrant oranges and bam! You got yourself a winner. If you’re going straight cocktail, add some bourbon or whiskey to orange liqueur and some cranberry juice. And of course, nothing beats the classic cranberry orange bread—a great morning breakfast to bring to work and have with an - ahem - latte.
3. . Sweet Potato Sage
Why does dessert get all the attention for fall? Now that avocados and tomatoes are going away with the summer wind, you do get some amazing vegetables in return—delicious, hearty fall dishes made with sweet potatoes and sage, which is a match made in heaven. Not only is sweet potato way better than pumpkin in every way (yes, even in pie), but it actually tastes like something! Well, I’m being a bit unfair, because most pumpkin spice dishes don’t include any pumpkin at all. But that’s probably because people are terrified of chopping their hands open along with the pumpkin they are trying to slice in half. But with sweet potatoes, a fine substitute for pumpkin, you don’t even have to worry about that! It is easy to slice a sweet potato, and the savory-sweetness of the orange potato goes excellently with some herbaceous sage, garlic and onion. Roast some sweet potatoes and mash them with chopped sage and butter. Or make the classic sweet potato risotto. Thank me later.
4. . Apple Cinnamon
Like I said before, there’s rarely pumpkin in pumpkin spice flavored products. What you’re tasting and enjoying is cinnamon and nutmeg. So if you’re enjoying cinnamon so much, perhaps you should just go back to the standard combo and enjoy it with some apples. Make apple pie. Drink cider with cinnamon whipped cream. Put some roasted apples in the oven and add greek yogurt and cinnamon granola for a healthy breakfast. Go back to the OG fall flavor, considering you’ve been bugging everyone in your life to go apple picking anyway.
5. . Chocolate Cayenne
If a hot beverage is what you’re really craving, then consider the Mexican Hot Chocolate. If you don’t want to make it from scratch, sprinkle a pinch of cayenne pepper into your mocha or hot chocolate. The spicy kick is not only good for you, but a perfect way to add some more SPICE (kill me) to your fall beverages, without waiting on a never-ending Starbucks line.