Back in the day, imbibing on Halloween was a hit-and-miss proposition. If you were lucky enough, as you escorted the kids on their trick-or-treating rounds, you might stumble upon the one house in the neighborhood where the homeowner took pity on the hapless parents. While the costumed goblins got their fill of toothsome treats, the man of the house would subtly nod to a tray of whiskey shots. You'd down one and trudge back into the frightful night. Treat indeed!
Today, the spooky spirits of All Hallows' Eve aren't only wandering the streets. Legions of bartenders and liquor producers have responded to the holiday by creating cocktails specifically themed for the night, so you needn't even leave the house to get your scare on.
Of course, plenty of brewers make a seasonal pumpkin beer, which can serve to put you in the Halloween mood with no more effort than popping a bottle top. And one gin maker, Nevada's Frey Ranch Distillery, is taking advantage of the scary tie-in to debut its Cemetery Gin on that very day. But those with a bent for mixology as well as the macabre might put some more effort by building cocktails.
Halloween cocktails break down into a few familiar themes. The obvious is crafting drinks with some sort of pumpkin input. Companies flavor their products with the gourd—from bagels to lattes to Oreos—so why not mixed drinks?
(by Zachary Blair, lead mixologist at Whiteface Lodge, New York)
2 oz. spiced rum
1 oz. hickory syrup
Splash of lemon
Bar spoon of pumpkin purée
Shake ingredients. Pour in highball glass with club soda. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
(featured at Crush inside Las Vegas's MGM Grand)
1 1/2 oz. Stoli Vanilla vodka
1/4 oz. Frangelico
1/4 oz. half & half
1 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. pumpkin purée
Mix over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a cinnamon rim and cinnamon stick.
1 1/2 parts Cruzan 9 Spiced rum
1/2 part Cruzan Vanilla rum
3 tbsp. pumpkin pie filling
4 parts hot water
Combine all ingredients in a mug and stir until fully blended. Top with whipped cream and a drizzle of vanilla rum on the top to finish.
Coloring Outside the Lines
Don't have a taste for pumpkin, but still want your drink color-coded? Plenty of mixologists have made concessions for your predilection.
2 oz. VOV (a traditional Italian zabaglione cream liqueur)
2 oz. orange juice
3 oz. sparkling orange soda or ginger ale
Add ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice and roll (empty contents back and forth between a shaker tin and the highball glass until well mixed). Garnish with an orange slice.
Van Goghst Punch
(Created by Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru)
1 bottle Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate vodka
12 oz. orange juice
12 oz. pomegranate juice
12 oz. club soda
Pour ingredients into large punch bowl or pitcher filled with ice and stir to chill and dilute (serves 12). Ladle or pour out into small punch glasses. Garnish with several sliced orange wheels.
The Harvest Moon
1 1/2 oz. Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom vodka
3/4 oz. Amaro Montenegró
1/2 oz. fresh lemon
1/4 oz. hot water
1/4 oz. honey (equal parts honey/hot water)
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
Orange zest garnish
Combine ingredients with ice, shake and strain. Garnish with orange zest and orange peel.
Blood Orange Margarita
1 oz. 1800 Añejo Tequila
2 oz. blood orange juice
Splash of agave
Garnish with chili pepper
Combine ingredients, serve over ice and garnish with chili pepper.
1 oz. Ketel One Oranje Flavored Vodka
1/4 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
2 1/2 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with orange slices.
Trick or Sweet Tooth?
For many of us munching pounds of candy is the dandiest part of this holiday. These libations allow you to drink it in as well.
Peanut Butter Cup Martini
11/2 oz. Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate vodka
1 oz. Castries Crème Peanut rum
3/4 oz. chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz. cream
Drizzle chocolate syrup into the bottom of a martini glass. Place the glass into the refrigerator until ready to use. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with a peanut butter cup.
1 1/2 oz. Van Gogh Dutch Caramel vodka
1/2 oz. Irish Cream liqueur
1/2 oz. Chocolate liqueur
1/2 oz. Amaretto
Splash of cream
Drizzle a thin line of both caramel and chocolate sauce on the inside of a rocks glass and place in refrigerator to chill. Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake over ice. Pour entire contents of shaker into glass.
Because the fall is more than just pumpkins and candy, another school of mixological thought is to call into play the other major flavor of the season.
Smoked and Spooky Maple Cakes
1 part Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch
1⁄2 part Jim Beam Maple
1⁄2 part DeKuyper Buttershots
2 parts fresh pressed apple juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
(by Taylor Hall of Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort)
1 oz. Fireball
3 oz. apple juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
Top off with Prosecco
Cinnamon/white sugar rim
Shake ingredients. Serve in a coupe glass. Garnish with an apple slice.
Gosling White Cider
(by Erik Thiess-Kusiak of Mirbeau Inn, Skaneateles, New York)
1 1/2 oz. Manoir d'Apreval Calvados Blanche (apple brandy)
4 oz. Gosling's ginger beer
1 dash Bitterman's Boston bitters
Fill a tall glass with ice. Combine all ingredients and stir. Garnish with lime.
The last approach of Halloween drinking is: If you can't put a theme in the glass, just give the cocktail a spooky name.
Dead Man's Mai Tai
1 part Cruzan Aged Light rum
1/2 part Cruzan Mango rum
1/2 part DeKuyper triple sec
1 1/2 part fresh sour mix
1/4 part Orgeat syrup
Dash of orange bitters
Float of Cruzan Black Strap Rum & Lime Squeeze
Combine the Aged Light Rum, Mango Rum, triple sec, fresh sour, Orgeat syrup and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Top with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into iced 14 oz. glass. Top with a lime squeeze and a float of Black Strap rum. Garnish with a cherry.
The Monster Mash
1 oz. Hangar 1 Straight vodka
1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz. Unti Rose
1/2 oz. Bianco Vermouth
1 oz. seltzer water
Combine ingredients and serve in personalized bottles over ice for on-the-go accessibility.
El Deunde Verde (The Green Goblin)
1 1/2 oz. 1800 Silver Tequila
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. lime juice cordial
1⁄4 oz. Green Chartreuse
Combine ingredients, serve over ice and garnish with lime wedge.
1 oz. Boodles Mulberry gin
1 oz. whiskey
Combine ingredients in a rocks glass over ice.
Ketel One Blackberry Widow
1 1/4 oz. Ketel One vodka
1/4 oz. Stirrings Ginger Flavored Liqueur
1 1/2 oz. pomegranate-blueberry juice
1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
Combine all the ingredients in an ice filled shaker. Shake well and strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with lime slices, crystallized ginger (optional) and/or blackberries.