The other morning I had to switch up my robust Americano and croissant for a weak-ass cup of diner coffee and a spongy bran muffin. Lucky for me, when the day was done, I had a special date at the Rooster Coffee House, a cozy café with killer beans across from Riverdale Park, featuring some of the greenest views I have seen in this city. Michael Riley, president of PROOF Brand Whiskey, Rum, and Vodka, was there to treat me to some amazing Fall flavored cocktails.

Proof Whiskey has been on the shelves for a year, and their rum is fresh on the market – it’s delicious, approachable, and begs to be experimented with. The seasons instantly changed for me as soon as I tasted The Apple Crisp (recipe below) a brew that tastes like an apple orchard, smells like Fall, and makes me eager for knitted sweaters.

Michael is obsessed with innovative ideas for bartending , and  PROOF’s blog  is chalk-full of cocktail ideas you wish you thought of,  listing quirky and incredibly spirited concoctions, including whiskey snow cones. Proof comes in an economic and compact glass bottle, which you can get super crafty with once empty (I plan to use it for holding home made cinnamon infused simple syrup!) Each one will always come with a neck tag with a recipe, something simple and delicious for the at-home-mixologist. At $20 a pop – you can create your starter bar, and still have money left for groceries.

So why were we at The Rooster Coffee house? Well, on this crisp Fall day, a Spiked Rooster was most certainly in order – and for that we had the café’s excellent coffee and talented baristas on hand – but don’t worry, you can make this whiskey-spiked latte at home. By the time Michael and I said farewell, my terrible morning coffee was a distant memory, and I was contented with this crisp Fall weather. You could say the Proof was in the… well, you get the picture…

the apple crisp (this drink can be served warmed or on ice) 
Cocktail size 
1 oz. proof whisky 
1/2 oz. cinnamon simple syrup  
4-5 oz. apple cider 
To a highball glass filled with ice, add proof whisky, cinnamon simple syrup and apple cider. 
Garnish drink with cinnamon stick. This cocktail can be served warm as well, just omit 
the ice and warm in a heat-resistant mug.

Pitcher or thermos size 
8 oz proof whisky 
4 oz. cinnamon simple syrup 
40 oz. apple cider 
To a pitcher, add proof whisky, cinnamon simple syrup and apple cider. Serve in highballs glasses filled with ice or a heat-resistant mug. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

the spiked rooster

1 ½ oz proof whisky
1 tsp vanilla simple syrup*
5 oz Atomic Rooster espresso (or good quality coffee)
Heavy cream or frothed milk**

Pour 1 ½ oz proof whisky, 1 tsp. vanilla simple syrup and 5 oz hot espresso into a coffee mug or latte bowl, slowly float the heavy cream or frothed milk on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

* Vanilla simple syrup recipe – Combine equal parts of sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into a jar or bottle with a lid and drop in a 1” piece of vanilla bean (you can substitute a 1/4 teaspoon of real vanilla extract for the bean). Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. This syrup is also great in your morning coffee. You can re-use the vanilla bean once the syrup is gone by putting it in your sugar bowl for vanilla sugar. (You can infuse your simple syrup with a variety of flavors like cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc.)

**HINT: Non-Fat Milk will be the easiest to foam. It will however not be as decadent a combination with your coffee. 2% Milk will foam quite easily and is a nice balance between ease of foaming and some fat in the milk making for a creamy and tasty drink.

Whole Milk is going to be the most challenging to create foam with. It will however be some kind of tasty when combined with coffee. The extra fat in the milk makes your latte or cappuccino a special treat. The milk is important, treat yourself.

~Louisa Cohen