The Riff

Autumnal Alignment with the Green Room

By: Emily Havener

In Charlotte, unconventional tiki cocktails blur the line between summer and fall in the best way

As the beverage manager at Charlotte’s Lincoln Street Kitchen and Cocktails and the Green Room—their newcomer pocket bar open only Friday and Saturday nights—Amanda Britton is living her best bartender life. “The Green Room is kind of my playground,” she says. “Cocktails for me sometimes are inspired by an ingredient or by the spirit itself, or it could be something completely different.”

Britton has worked in beverage hospitality for 16 years, launching multiple bar programs in the Charlotte area and winning North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Mixologist of the Year in 2017. She’s found that what she calls “obscure classics” resonate most with her customers: “For me it’s getting people outside of their comfort zone but still within their wheelhouse.”

One of these obscure classics, the Saturn, is her go-to cocktail to span the transitional period between summer and fall. It’s a gin-based tiki cocktail, and according to Britton, “tiki and fall spices—warming spices—go hand in hand.” In the original she uses Botanist gin for its citrus base notes, which complement the passion fruit syrup, almondy orgeat, and spice-forward falernum. Her first riff replaces the gin with sherry; Britton says, “The raisinated and nutty quality seemed like a home run paired with tropical flavors like pineapple and passion fruit.” And her punch, Under Wraps, moves fully into cooler-weather territory with smoky mezcal, absinthe, and grapefruit.

Cocktails: A glass on a table filled with a bright yellow cocktail topped with a lime and black cherry.

The Saturn

This bold classic plays with citrus and spices, giving the drink a unique but complementary warm, fruity flavor.

Cocktails: A pitcher sitting on a table with an orange colored punch topped with grapefruit slices. Mini glasses for pouring sit in front of the pitcher.

Under Wraps

Britton presents a unique cooler-weather punch with a smoky mezcal blended with fruity grapefruit and lime. The large serving size makes it perfect for a fall gathering!

Cocktails: A glass sitting on a table with a brown colored drink (a sherry, chai cocktail) topped with a smoking charred cinnamon stick and a pineapple frond.

My Venus Is In Pisces

According to Britton, “Playing with chai spices, which are found in many tiki cocktails, melds so well with all ingredients and really sends home a fall vibe.” This lively cocktail combines sherry, chai, and smoked cinnamon, creating the perfect blend of flavors.

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