No matter how old you are, Halloween is a magical time of year. It’s when people become other people, we actually seek out the scary and grotesque, and even the good-est of goody-two-shoes might have a sense of mischief. And even if you’re not into all that, you’ve got to admit, Halloween brings the best parties.
If you’re planning to host a ghostly get-together, it’s easy enough to stock up on hard cider and pumpkin beer. But if you want to offer your guests something frighteningly impressive, consider mixing up a creative cocktail befitting the holiday. Whether you’re having a horror movie-watching kickback or a full-on rager (vaccinated ghouls only, please), mix up something memorable and, of course, ’grammable. Need inspiration? We’ve got you.
We reached out to bars and restaurants around the world that have spooky, spicy and yet still swanky drink offerings lined up for this Halloween, and the stuff they came up with is to die for. The drinks feature classic fall flavors and creepy colors, and you might consider having even more fun with presentation by throwing in drink stirrers shaped like zombie parts, or dropping in some (literal) sugar skulls.
The bars and restaurants we spoke to shared some DIY-friendly versions of their cocktail recipes, complete with instructions and suggested glassware and garnish. No need to be scared ― the ingredients called for can most likely be found at your regular grocery store or liquor store, or even on Amazon. A couple of these recipes call for egg whites to create a frothy consistency. We suggest you buy liquid egg whites rather than spend your Halloweekend separating a bunch of egg yolks. And finally, the only equipment you’ll need is a cocktail shaker ― which could double as a costume accessory if you’re going as, say, the Overlook Hotel bartender. Just an idea.
This simply named cocktail comes from Shigefumi Kabashima, owner and bar director of NR, located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. If autumn tends to get chilly where you live, this comforting toddy of sorts will be just the thing. No need to turn on the stove ― just start by warming the glasses or mugs you’ll be serving in so the ingredients can heat up and meld together. NR serves its version with house-made Angostura bitters, but the store-bought stuff should do just fine.
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces apple cider
1/3 ounce honey
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 pat of butter
1 cinnamon stick
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Combine ingredients into a warm cocktail glass, then stir together to create one serving.
Unfortunately, Halloween does fall on a Sunday this year. The good news is, Sunday to Sunday, a Lower East Side cafe, has just the thing to keep you in the spirit rather than worried about the week ahead. The version it serves includes a proprietary homemade spiced maple syrup, but you can try infusing regular maple syrup with spices yourself, or make your life easier and buy one pre-spiced.
Put all ingredients in a small cocktail shaker with no ice to dry-shake ― this will create foam. After shaking for a while, add a little bit of ice and shake again. Strain into a wine glass, no ice, and garnish with cinnamon.
Austin Franco, bar manager at Bamboo Room, a cocktail lounge in Westlake Village, California, shared a recipe for a cocktail that’s sanguine in appearance but refreshing and fruity to taste. Bamboo Room makes its own grenadine out of pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, orange blossom water and granulated sugar, but you can find pre-made grenadine at most grocery stores (or Amazon). It also rims the glass with red sugar, dyed with beet juice ― if you’re making this at home, you can pick up decorative sugar in the baking aisle.
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce grenadine
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce Combier Orange (Triple Sec or Cointreau works, too)
2 blackberries, muddled with ingredients
Rim a martini glass in red sugar. Add all ingredients to the shaker and muddle the blackberries. Add ice to the shaker, shake and double strain. Top with a splash of sparkling wine. Garnish, if desired, with a skewered blackberry and lemon wedge.
This recipe comes courtesy of Little Rebel, a trendy cocktail bar in New York City’s East Village. The flavors are tropical ― perfect if your Halloween party is somewhere with warm weather ― but the appearance is fun and sort of eerie. Feel free to puree your own passion fruit or grab some pre-blended in the frozen fruit aisle, but for the sake of time and convenience, you’ll probably want to opt for a handy bottled version.
Add ice to shaker and shake with the ingredients all together. Strain over fresh ice in a glass. Garnish with gummy brains candy (or another on-theme candy of your choice) and 1/4 ounce of grenadine floated over.
Paris may not be the spookiest city that immediately comes to mind, but it’s one with a lot of history and … spirit. Stéphane Ginouvès, head barman of Le Fouquet’s, shared a DIY version of its seasonal cocktail, the Fresh Monkey: a ghostly pale drink bearing the distinct fall flavors of apple and spicy ginger. For the apple syrup, you can snag it on Amazon.
Add all ingredients to a shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a small sprig of rosemary and flower petals.
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