Fall used to evoke thoughts of hot apple cider, drifting leaves of golden amber and pulling out the sweaters to chase the chill. Now, as autumn begins, the American landscape seems to be dominated by a single gastronomic spectacle: pumpkin spice. Thanks to Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is now going on 12 years of stardom, the commercialization of pumpkin spice flavors—a mixture of sweet pumpkin and baking spice—has reached unprecedented levels. We’ve developed a seasonal hankering for fall’s favorite aromatic and flavorful essences of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice melded with the caramelized orange gourd. Could pumpkin spice anticipation be the Beaujolais Nouveau of the New World? The seasonal harbinger has certainly arrived in Las Vegas with no shortage of options to remind you that autumn is, if not in temperature, here.
Pumpkin Spice Martini
A veritable cornucopia of spices with a sophisticated twist is Andrea’s pumpkin spice cocktail inspired by Wynn executive Sean Christie’s desire to offer an “adult, boozy” chilled version of popular seasonal hot coffee drinks. The concoction combines Crop Organic Spiced Pumpkin Vodka, Botran Reserva Rum, Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Liqueur and Licor 43 vanilla-citrus liqueur. Bright tangerine flavor balances the sweetness from beneath a fluffy layer of dairy cream and a touch of chai syrup. $19, Andrea’s in Encore, 702-770-5340, WynnLasVegas.com.
Pumpkin Spice Swirled Chocolate Brownies
Available in fall and winter, this dessert rises to the occasion if you’re not quite ready for the full-on flavors of pumpkin spice. Maintaining the irresistible fudgy chocolate decadence of a brownie, Chocolate & Spice chef-owner Megan Romano swirls cinnamon, clove and allspice into individual-size, round-shaped brownies. “It’s the taste of autumn, but still light,” Romano says. While the hefty size is certainly shareable, it’s more delightful when indulged alone. (Also try Romano’s vanilla pumpkin spice Bundt cake and pumpkin spice rice krispy.) $4, Chocolate & Spice Bakery, 702-527-7772, ChocolateNSpice.com.
Pumpkin Almond Milk Smoothie
Dairy’s got some competition this fall. Light and refreshing, yet creamy and satisfying, Jamba Juice’s pumpkin almond milk smoothie does the trick for a nutrient-rich seasonal boost, made to order with real pumpkin, almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh banana and ice. The banana imparts a rich, creamy texture, while the almond milk keeps things light, as the spices come through generously with each cool sip. $5.49-$6.79 (16-28 oz.), Jamba Juice locations, 702-906-1491, JambaJuice.com.
Pumpkin Gnocchi With Duck Prosciutto
DB Brasserie chef Vincent Pouessel’s delicate house-made gnocchi incorporates sweet, roasted Cinderella pumpkin that is coated with butter, then spiced with freshly grated cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, turmeric and brown sugar. Sautéed with young arugula salad and served atop a roasted pumpkin puree, the tender gnocchi are then met with a poached organic brown egg and thinly sliced house-cured duck prosciutto, and finished with a flurry of aged pecorino. “There’s a real savory poultry flavor to the dish, almost if you had condensed the flavors of Thanksgiving turkey with the sweet potato or squash stuffing,” Pouessel says. (Also try the pumpkin pie éclairs, spiced pumpkin soufflé, Fairy Tale & Kabocha Pumpkin Soup, pumpkin ravioli and amaretto crumble.) $18, DB Brasserie in the Venetian, 702-430-1235, DBBrasserie.com.
Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Sundae
Fall’s notion of giving generously happens in a cup at Sprinkles (pictured above). This seasonal creation (available Nov. 1-30) is laced with indulgent flavors of autumn, such as ginger, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. The sundae’s center is a heaping scoop of cinnamon ice cream layered with Sprinkles’ pumpkin cake and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. (If you like them together, you’ll also love Sprinkles’ pumpkin spice ice cream and pumpkin spice cupcake served separately.) $6.75-7.75, Sprinkles at the Linq Promenade, 702-733-0522, Sprinkles.com.
Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Bread
Ranking in the top three of Great Harvest Bread Co.’s most wanted, the pumpkin spice chocolate chip bread is available year-round. The quick-bread loaf is loaded with fall character. The luscious cake-like texture is dense and moist, and best enjoyed warm. Added sweetness is found in those little chocolate chips that are the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth surprise. Great Harvest guarantees that its bread, made daily from scratch, stays fresh on the counter for seven days but, really, who’s going to let it last that long? (Also try the pumpkin spice bread.) $8.25, Great Harvest Bread Co., 10180 W. Tropicana Ave., Suite 131, 702-221-5623, GreatHarvest.com.
Pumpkin Spice Tiramisu
Chef Jason Neve’s twist on this classic Italian dolce makes an impression: pumpkin spice ladyfinger cake is infused with the bold, warm cinnamon coffee. Nutmeg cream is delicately layered on top, then garnished with spiced candied pecans. $14, Carnevino in the Palazzo, 702-789-4141, Carnevino.com.