Forgive me, but I’m not going to pay $25 for a bottle of pumpkin spice Bailey’s—not when there are cheaper, more viable options out there. Last year, I crafted my pumpkin pie martini. I have since done many variations of this, running the gamut from adding Licor 43, Jack Daniel’s, spiced rum, and/or brandy in addition to vodka. Hell, you can even add Kahlua or Kamora and have yourself a pumpkin spice latte martini. And that is why I am looking for a cheaper pumpkin liqueur: because by the time you mix and match and garnish with spices, you wouldn’t realize what you are drinking anyway.
It seems that every year, I am left reminding people on this blog that pumpkin spice does not equal pumpkin. Pumpkin is pumpkin. Pumpkin spice is cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. There. I’ve just set the record for most uses of the word “pumpkin” in a paragraph. Now all we need is John and Peter’s Place in New Hope to offer a pumpkin martini made by their legendary bartender Miss Pumpkin, and I think a vortex would form stemming from this blog.
So, now let’s get to the two biggest options for pumpkin liqueur (at least in the Monmouth County, NJ market), both of which I enjoy for different reasons:
Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Liqueur
It’s right there in the title: pumpkin pie. This thick pour is a no brainer for a martini mixer or just by itself as an after-dinner cordial when you feel like indulging in the season. The spices are understated and not overbearing, which is exactly what I am looking for when mixing a cocktail. This allows me more control over how the drink will taste. However, with that thickness comes hesitancy when using this: it is like a small meal in itself. Two drinks and you may be too full to have dinner afterwards if you are using this at the beginning of your evening. Not to mention the amount of calories. Then again, if you decide to carry on making this drink from September straight through to Thanksgiving, does anyone really care about the nutrition facts?
Currently not available at Bottle King. I had inquired and they said it would be on the way shortly. Kudos (I guess) for not ramming pumpkin down our throats as soon as Labor Day is behind us, but damn, I was in the mood for it! The price usually starts at $10.99 for a 750 ML bottle.
Pennsylvania Dutch Pumpkin Cream Liqueur
The actual spice flavor is even weaker here than Fulton’s, but this is supposed to be straight up pumpkin, not necessarily pumpkin spice. The consistency is also not as thick. When I poured it out, I was shocked that it would be called “cream” at all. In fact, I thought, “Did I just waste $17.99 on this handle? There’s no way this will give me the desired complexion for my martinis.” But I was wrong. The almost watery thinness of it allows for you to imbibe without filling yourself up too much. While there are no known nutrition facts available out there for most liquor, I would imagine this would be better for one’s waistline than Fulton’s. There is also something homey and cozy about the Pennsylvania Dutch bottle, hearkening me back to many wonderful falls spent in Lancaster over the years. I imagine others might like the vintage feel as well.
As of this posting, it is also the only pumpkin liqueur besides Bailey’s I have been able to find in the Holmdel/Middletown area (namely Buy Rite in Holmdel). It ranges from $9.99-11.99 for a 750 ML bottle to $17.99 for the 1.75 liter. If you plan on entertaining a lot this fall (or just like to drink!), the larger bottle is quite a deal.
I recommend both—whatever you can get your hands on. As for which I like more? It is hard to say. There aren’t many criticisms I have for either. While Fulton’s is a little more luxurious, I do have a special place for Pennsylvania Dutch, especially their egg nog. Deciding which you want, when both are available, will come down to consistency. Thicker or thinner? That is the question.