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Sensational Maple!

As summer turns to fall, local eateries are sweetening their menus with inspiring takes on maple-infused meals. Check out our five favorites that are worth tapping this season.

Maple sticky buns at Nopa Bar + Kitchen

Black Jack
DC denizens travel to Virginia hunt country for autumn’s high-end horse races. In the city, Bar Manager E. Jay Apaga celebrates racing days with a sweet twist on the classic Derby cocktail. He swaps in a housemade maple-ginger syrup for the standard herbaceous Bénédictine liqueur to create the bourbon-based Maple Derby, which is dressed up with freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime juices. “It sells well year-round,” says Apaga, “but whenever there’s a horse race, we sell a ton of them.” 1612 14th St. NW, 202.319.1612,

Nopa Kitchen + Bar
Sticky buns are typically a staple on breakfast menus, but Pastry Chef Jemil Gadea “wanted to do something that was fun and that people could share,” he says. The cinnamon-flavored pastries are drizzled with rich maple toffee and accompanied by a boozy Malaga ice cream laced with marsala wine and dotted with golden raisins. 800 F St. NW, 202.347.4667,

Fall is Executive Chef Tony Conte’s favorite time of year. “Squashes, mushrooms and apples are all in season,” he says. “And it’s a great time to play around with maple syrup.” To celebrate, he created an upscale play on Boston baked beans featuring crispy, maple cured foie gras nuggets nestled in barbecue-sauce lentils. 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.393.0701,

Founding Farmers
“When maple heats up and caramelizes, it has more flavor than honey or molasses,” says chef Joe Goetze. That’s why he uses the amber syrup to glaze salmon filets. The fish is cooked on a fresh cedar plank soaked with wine, creating a slight smokiness that adds another hint of autumn to the dish. 1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202.822.8783,

Smoke & Barrel
“At a barbecue joint, there’s usually only a cobbler or a banana split offered for dessert,” says Executive Chef Logan McGear, “but I wanted do something that was a cut above average.” McGear created a mouthwatering maple creme brulee featuring minced bits of roasted bacon. Maple and bacon? That’s a barbecue joint we can get on board with this fall. 2471 18th St. NW, 202.319.9353,