SIXTEEN YEARS OF PSLS – Pumpkin Spice Lattes – don’t lie. Starbucks’ heavily hyped fall beverage, unveiled in 2003, undeniably sparked interest in a spice-infused flavor that taps into our emotions and sets our internal clocks for this daylight-shortening precursor to winter. Time to snuggle under blankets on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. With pumpkin spice mania in full swing, we singled out the best of our local offerings.
STONE CREEK’S DOWNER CAFÉ (2650 N. Downer Ave.)
The popularity of liège-style waffles is no mystery. Studded with crunchy caramelized pearl sugar, they’re sweeter than Belgian waffles. The version at STONE CREEK’S DOWNER CAFÉ is a desserty breakfast. Its decadent pumpkin spice waffle is a feast of sweet, with pumpkin cream cheese filling, toasted pepitas and pecans, whipped cream and maple syrup.
BIRCH + BUTCHER (459 E. Pleasant St.)
Hatched baker Allison Cebulla’s hand pies ought to come with a richness warning. Flaky pastry dough surrounds a creamy pumpkin filling. The top is drizzled with creamy vanilla icing. Ooh-la-la! Find this seasonal special at BIRCH + BUTCHER.
CRANKY AL’S (6901 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa)
The super-classic cake doughnut is glazed and topped with pumpkin icing for extra squashy flavor. Tender and delicious.
THE SOUP OTZIE’S (3950 S. Howell Ave.)
THE SOUP OTZIE’S makes a great pureed pumpkin-coconut milk soup with chunks of lump crab. Wisps of ginger, citrus and fresh cilantro shine through. Look for it on a rotational basis on the menu.
MISS MOLLY’S CAFÉ & PASTRY SHOP (9201 W. Center St.)
Richer than a muffin, with a dense but still light crumb and loads of gingery-nutmegy fl avor, this dainty cake is piped with a smooth, rich cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. Perfect.
GREAT LAKES DISTILLERY (greatlakesdistillery.com)
This whiskey from GREAT LAKES DISTILLERY has unmistakable hints of caramel and nutmeg flavor. It’s a nice sipper on its own or, as the distillery recommends, mixed with apple cider or in an old fashioned.
STEVENS POINT BREWERY (pointbeer.com)
The ubiquity of pumpkin beers has receded the last couple of years, but there are still some good ones out there. STEVENS POINT BREWERY’s selection is a gold standard, particularly if you like your pies on the spicier side: malty and robust, with lots of the classic spice blend, a touch of ginger and a vegetal undernote of its titular gourd.